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What are the steps for testing for a concussion?

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Quick Answer

Testing for concussion includes a thorough neurological examination as well as cognitive testing. In cases of severe symptoms such as seizures, chronic vomiting or worsening headaches, imaging tests may also take place to look for swelling or bleeding inside the skull, as stated by Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

The neurological examination includes checking the patient's vision, hearing, balance, coordination, reflexes, sensation and strength. The doctor also asks detailed questions about the injury itself. Afterward, cognitive tests to measure ability to remember information, concentrate on tasks and access short-term and long-term memory, according to Mayo Clinic.

In some cases, people exhibit symptoms after a concussion that indicate the possibility of a life-threatening condition. In situations like this, a cranial computerized tomography (CT) scan is used to determine the condition of the brain. Through a set of X-ray images, the CT scan creates cross-sectional images of the brain and skull. If the doctor feels it is necessary, the patient may also undergo magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI looks for bleeding inside the brain and for other signs of complications following a concussion. Through radio waves and magnets, the MRI develops in-depth images of the brain.

Depending on these findings, the patient may be kept overnight in the hospital for observation after a severe concussion. If the doctor permits at-home observation, the patient should have constant monitoring for the first 24 hours after the event, including waking the patient up a couple of times during the night to ensure that the patient can still wake up normally, notes Mayo Clinic.

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