Toward a Better Assessment of Head Injury Symptoms: Head Injury Questionnaire
By Richard H. Adler
October 13, 2001
Complaints of post-concussion symptoms and head injury are common among populations of auto accident and other trauma victims, particularly during the acute phase of injury. Symptoms frequently involve reports of memory and attention deficit, headaches with and without nausea, double vision, loss of concentration, increase sensitivity to distractions, anger and/or irritability, apathy, etc..
Medical literature and experience suggest that many head injury symptoms seem to lessen with time, and resolve fully within 6-12 months of trauma in many cases. This “presumption of improvement” may be misleading and deter many providers from a comprehensive and rigorous tracking of specific symptoms and pain complaints. Cognitive limitations following head trauma are wide ranging and are not always fully evaluated when early treatment is directed at acute physical pain. When concussive and cognitive symptoms are not well documented effective care suffers.
When treating a patient who presents with head injury or concussive-like symptoms, a simple but comprehensive intake questionnaire may help fully assess the patient’s condition. Toward this end, we are enclosing a questionnaire to assist the provider in further assessing head injury conditions.
If a patient checks off several symptoms in the checklist, consideration needs to be given for a referral to a neurologist and/or neuropsychologist. If the condition arises from a traumatic injury, it may also be prudent to have the patient consult with an attorney specializing in head injury cases. Early legal consultation can protect the patients rights and access to necessary health care providers.
Research has shown that acknowledgment, proper assessment, and treatment can diminish and lessen the effects of post concussion syndrome and closed head injury effects by giving the patient necessary information and insights to address the deficits. Individuals who sustain head injuries may experience an array of symptoms, both short-and-long-term. The important thing is to take head injury seriously and conduct proper assessment of the condition during the acute phase of injury.
1 It is important to note that some pain medications can exacerbate cognitive deficits in attention, memory and other areas.