Why Psychiatric Experts Matter in Cases of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) is diagnosed in nearly two million people each year as a result of falls, traffic accidents, being struck by various objects, and assaults. This type of injury is categorized as neurologic and is treated by medical specialists called neurologists. While these specially trained physicians are experts at treating the physical component of these injures, psychiatric experts also play a valuable role by evaluating and treating emotional and behavioral problems that arise as an extension of the brain injury they have received.

Individuals with traumatic brain injury may suffer from symptoms of fatigue, depression, anxiety, mood swings and sleep disorders. Experiencing an injury of this type increases the person’s risk of developing other psychiatric disorders such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), with depression and anxiety being the most common symptoms. Impairments in function that occur after TBI may or may not be physiologically caused by the injury or, may be caused by the traumatic emotional reaction to sustaining the physiological. Any traumatic event will lead to psychological repercussions, making it essential to have a psychiatrist be a member of the team evaluating the brain injured individual’s condition.  When the TBI results in litigation, it is often necessary for both sides to retain a forensic psychiatric to evaluate the emotional condition of the brain injured plaintiff.

Neuropsychological testing can be used to assess any cognitive and/or emotional symptoms present following the TBI. The testing also can help elucidate which cognitive and/or emotional symptoms were present prior to the TBI and which ones, if any, followed the trauma. The neuropsychologist assessment offers detailed and comprehensive data about the individual’s cognitive capabilities, and is based on multiple hours of testing and reviewing other relevant data including but not limited prior neuropsychological testing and assessments. The goal of the assessment is to learn who the person was before the injury and to determine what changes, if any, have occurred that may have been caused or exacerbated by the injury. Then, once accurate medical and psychiatric diagnoses are made, both the appropriate physical and psychiatric treatment for the individual can be determined can be determined and recommended as part.