Mild Brain Injury 101, The Top 5 Myths About Mild Brain Injury – #3

Mild brain injury cases are very complex. This series of 5 articles by BC brain injury lawyer Paul Mitchell, Q.C., will explain the Top 5 Myths About Mild Brain Injury.

Find out what is involved in these challenging and difficult cases, and separate fact from fiction.

Myth # 3 A Clear MRI or CT Scan Means there is No Brain Injury

FACT ; A clear MRI or CT scan does not rule out a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

While MRI and CT scans are often able to detect a traumatic brain injury, it is possible that neuroimaging tests can fail to pick up the microscopic axonal injuries often associated with MTBI.

A clear MRI or CT scan does not rule out the possibility of a MTBI. These “clean” CT or MRI’s may produce what is called a “false negative”, which means there really is something there, but the test does not pick it up, as it is not sensitive enough.

According to researchers, MRI’s and CT scans often fail to indicate abnormalities in many patients with a history of mild brain injury.

If you performed a biopsy on the brain, it may show microscopic lesions and axonal sheer, which is the hallmark of a mild TBI. These microscopic changes to the brain from a MTBI are explained in my previous articles, Myths # 4 and #5. They often do not show up in neuroimaging as they are microscopic in size.

Although nothing may show on neuroimaging, the presence of MTBI may be often diagnosed by a neuropsychologist performing what’s called a ”neuropsychological assessment”, often called a “neuropsych test”.

There may be signs of a MTBI, even though the neuroimaging is clear, which should compel you to explore further whether there has indeed been an MTBI.

Some commons symptoms and signs of a MTBI include;

  • Headaches or neck pain that do not go away;
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
  • Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason);
  • Getting lost or easily confused;
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
  • Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
  • Urge to vomit (nausea);
  • Irritability, anger, frustartion
  • More emotional, including crying often
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily;
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste; and
  • Easily overwhelmed in social situations, wanting to stay in their room, becoming isolated
  • Ringing in the ears.

When someone has a number of the above symptoms, they should be evaluated by a neuropsychologist, even though the MRI or CT scan was clear, to assess whether the person has indeed suffered a MTBI.

In summary, it’s a myth that a clear MRI or CT scan means there is no brain injury.

And that’s a fact.

Paul Mitchell, a BC personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience with brain injury claims. He acts for the brain injured all over BC, and will not act for ICBC or any other insurance company.

Paul was a founding Director of BrainTrust Canada (Central Okanagan Brain Injury Society), and was on their board for over 25 years. He has presented at numerous brain injury conferences, including the Naramata Brain Injury Conference, and the BC Brain Injury Conference in Vancouver. He is also the author of many articles and publications on brain injury.

For more information on brain injuries, or for a confidential discussion of your brain injury claim, contact Paul Mitchell, Q.C. at 250-869-1115 (direct line), or send him a confidential email at [email protected]

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