chapter  3
Imaging procedures in understanding brain injury
Pages 6

Most patients admitted to hospital with a brain injury or infection will have a computed tomography (CT) brain scan. CT scans use computerprocessed X-rays to produce pictures of slices of the brain to enable us to see the structure of the brain without the need for surgery. Thus, these scans provide a rough-and-ready picture of any damage that has occurred. They are limited, however, as some parts of the brain may be partly obscured and certain types of damage may be undetected. A more sophisticated scan is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. These are increasingly used with TBI patients. This type of imaging procedure employs strong magnetic fi elds and radio waves to form images. Although an MRI scan is better than a CT scan at detecting the extent and severity of a brain injury (Coleman et al., 2007), it is not always readily available, and CT scans are more likely to be used immediately after a TBI. Another kind of MRI is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This allows one to visualise anatomical connections in the brain and can detect changes in white matter. Consequently, it has become popular in helping in the understanding of neurological disorders including TBI. Voelbel, Genova, Chiaravalotti and Hoptman (2012) believe this may be a good measure to detect neuroplasticity in patients undergoing cognitive rehabilitation. Their paper, however, does not address people with disorders of consciousness (DOC).