Dementia in Head Injury (cont.)
Julia Frank, MD
Nestor Galvez-Jimenez, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Helmi L Lutsep, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
In most cases, the appearance of dementia symptoms is clearly linked to a known head injury. The health care provider will ask for a detailed account of the onset of symptoms. This account should include the following:
The medical interview will ask for details of all medical problems now and in the past, all medications and other therapies, family medical history, work history, and habits and lifestyle.
A thorough physical examination will be done to identify neurological and cognitive problems, problems in mental or social function, and unusual appearance, behavior, or mood.
Neuropsychological testing is the most sensitive means of identifying dementia in persons with head injury. It is carried out by a specialist trained in this specific area of clinical psychology. The neuropsychologist uses clinical rating scales to identify subtle cognitive problems. This testing also establishes clear baselines for measuring changes over time.
Head injury warrants a brain scan to detect which parts of the brain are injured.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) measures the electrical activity of the brain. It may be used to diagnose seizures.
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Traumatic brain injury can lead to deficits in 5 general areas: (1) short-term memory impairment, (2) slowed processing speed, (3) impaired executive function, (4) disrupted abilities of attention and concentration (which likely contributes to the deficits noted in the first 3 categories), and (5) emotional dysregulation.