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What are the Different Types of Medical Diagnostic Tests – Part Three

In Part One of our discussion of medical diagnostic tests for workers’ compensation workers who are injured or become ill; we discussed X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. In Part Two, we discussed ultrasound and EMG tests. In this third article, we discuss a few diagnostic tests that affect different parts of a worker’s body – problems with balance, problems with the nerves of their autonomous nervous system test, brain trauma, spinal cord damage, and internal bleeding.

The ER doctors and treating doctors should explain what happens at each of these tests and how these tests help diagnose your medical condition – before each test.

Balancing tests

Vestibular tests are used to help your doctor diagnose whether you have any balance problems and the cause of those problems. The tests help determine if your balance disorder is due to an inner ear problem, a brain injury, or the nerves in the vestibular system. The test involves examining your eyes and how your eyes move.

There are several different types of eye tests such as a rotary chair test which involves examining your eye movements while you sit in a computer-controlled chair.

Other balancing tests include, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Hearing tests to check for Hearing Loss.
  • A posturography test. “Wearing a safety harness, you try to remain standing on a moving platform. A posturography test indicates which parts of your balance system you rely on most.”
  • MRIs and CT scans.
  • Examining your blood pressure and heart rate

Autonomic nervous system tests

Your physician may conduct diagnostic tests if he/she suspects there is something wrong with your autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls your heart, blood vessels, sweat glands, and skin temperature.

Concussion and traumatic brain injury tests

A concussion may be the result of a car accident, a fall, being struck by an object, workplace violence, and other types of workplace injuries. It involves a blow or jolt to the head that affects the normal functioning of the brain.

The Mayo Clinic states that if your physician suspects that you have a concussion, the physician may conduct a neurological exam, and conduct imaging and cognitive function tests.

The neurological exam involves asking a number of questions and conducting certain physical tests about your vision, hearing, coordination, reflexes, balance, strength, and sensation. Cognitive tests involve questions and responses regarding your memory, ability to recall information, and ability to concentrate.

Imaging tests for a workers’ compensation concussion injury involve the use of CT scans to help determine if there is any bleeding or swelling in the brain or skull. An MRI may be used “to identify changes in your brain or to diagnose complications that may occur after a concussion.”

Some of the tests that are used to diagnose a traumatic brain injury (any forceful or penetration injury to the skull) are the following:

  • A Glasgow Coma Scale test. This test uses a 15-point scoring system based on the injured workers’ ability to follow directions and move certain parts of their body. The ability or inability to speak is also part of the test. Low scores indicate a very severe traumatic brain injury, Higher scores indicate a moderate traumatic brain injury.
  • Some of the imaging tests that we discussed in part one of our discussion may also be used. These tests include a CT scan which is normally performed in the emergency room. This test “can quickly visualize fractures and uncover evidence of bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage), blood clots (hematomas), bruised brain tissue (contusions), and brain tissue swelling.”
  • An MRI may be ordered – once the worker’s medical condition becomes stable, or if symptoms aren’t improving.
  • Another diagnostic test for a worker who has a traumatic brain injury is an intracranial pressure monitor which involves inserting a probe through the worker’s skull to monitor the pressure inside the skull. Increased pressure can cause additional brain damage.
  • SPECT Scan of the Brain-single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a” functional nuclear imaging technique performed to evaluate regional cerebral perfusion. Because cerebral blood flow is closely linked to neuronal activity, the activity distribution is presumed to reflect neuronal activity levels in different areas of the brain.” A tracer dye is injected into the patient and crosses the blood-brain barrier. As a result, detailed, 3-D images of the blood flow in the brain can be imaged and those images can provide important information and confirmation of damage to particular areas of the brain.

The treating physician will also want to know from any co-workers or witnesses whether the employee lost consciousness, how the accident happened, what parts of the body were struck, and the answers to many other questions.

Spinal cord injury tests

A spinal cord injury may include damage to the nerves at the end of the spinal cord, herniated discs, paralysis, and many other serious injuries. The spinal cord “sends and receives signals between the brain and the rest of the body.” Generally, the worker may suffer serious or permanent loss of bodily function below the site of the injury.

The diagnostic tests for a spinal cord injury, according to the Mayo Clinic, involve the standard three imaging tests – X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.

X-rays can show if there is damage to any bones (called vertebrae) surrounding the spinal cord. X-rays can also reveal if there are fractures, tumors, or spinal cord changes. CT scans can determine if there are bone, disk, or other spinal cord disorders. An MRI is useful for showing if an injured North Carolina or Virginia worker has a herniated disk, a blood clot, or a mass that might compress the worker’s spinal cord.

After the swelling goes down, the worker will likely undergo a neurological exam that tests “muscle strength and your ability to sense light touch and pinprick sensations.”

Other diagnostic tests

Physicians may order blood tests for a broad range of reasons. While many of these tests are used to diagnose diseases including occupational diseases such as heart disease, blood tests might be ordered for workers who are injured to help analyze whether the worker has any internal bleeding and any internal organ damage.

At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer has helped thousands of injured workers receive their full workers’ compensation benefits. A medical diagnosis helps to confirm that you were injured, that your injuries were due to your job, that you will need additional medical care, and that your injuries prevent you from working. We’re skilled at working with your doctors to confirm what injuries and illnesses you do have. To schedule a free consultation, call attorney Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295 or fill out my online contact form.

Our law firm does have a way for you to provide your details of your accident and injuries if you simply want to do that electronically from the comfort and safety of your home at any time of day or night. To utilize this service, simply click here: New Electronic Case Review.

We’ll get back to you, typically within 24 hours to provide our response as to whether your situation is one where we can provide you with legal representation. If we require more information, we’ll contact you and ask for that information in order to make that determination as to whether we are the best folks to assist you. If we ultimately determine that we cannot represent or assist you, we will not leave you high and dry. We’ll do our best to provide you with other resources to assist you.

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