Undiagnosed Brain Injuries in youths and adults

Undiagnosed Brain Injuries in youths and adults

Michael Mozzoni, Ph.D. and Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

Undiagnosed brain injuries can have many consequences for youths. The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury or concussion in youths and adults are often missed or overlooked if there is no visible injury or immediate loss of consciousness. This tip card provides checklists for identifying physical, cognitive, behavioral and social changes that may indicate a possible undiagnosed brain injury or concussion. It gives tips on questions to ask and information to gather in order to seek help and treatment.

Item: UBI
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Full Description

Information on undiagnosed brain injuries helps families, educators and clinicians recognize the signs and symptoms of brain injury, ask questions and gather information. It provides checklists for questions to ask and things to observe. It lists common signs and symptoms of physical changes, cognitive changes, behavioral problems and social skills. The dangers of repeated injuries and inappropriate treatment for head trauma are discussed. Steps and resources are given for what to do if you suspect a person has a brain injury.

Item UBI
Pages 8
Year Second edition, 2008


Michael Mozzoni, Ph.D.

Dr. Mozzoni serves as the Director of Behavioral Services and Training for Lakeview Neurobehavioral Healthcare Center in New Hampshire. He is responsible for the supervision of behavior specialists/analysts, behavioral programming, development of data collection systems and staff training. The program serves 119 adults, adolescents and children demonstrating severe social, cognitive and behavioral deficits, within the community, schools and residential treatment facilities.

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

Marilyn uses her social work experience and research in pediatric rehabilitation to develop sensitive and practical guides for families, educators, and professionals. Marilyn's specialty is helping families cope with the emotional impact of brain injury and developing strategies for negotiating the complex service system. Now President and Senior Editor of Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, she focuses on developing user friendly publications for families, educators, and clinicians.


This tip card helps clinicians, educators, and families...

  • recognize signs and symptoms
  • ask questions and gather information
  • know what to do and how to seek help


Signs Among Youth

Signs Among Adults

Repeated Injuries

Inappropriate Treatment

Questions to Ask

  • Things to observe

Signs and Symptoms Checklists

  • Physical changes
  • Cognitive changes
  • Behavioral problems
  • Social problems
  • Tips on what to do if you suspect a brain injury




Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.


One of the hallmarks for determining the severity of a brain injury is coma. Individuals with a mild brain injury or concussion may not seek treatment immediately, since they either do not lose consciousness or do so for only seconds or minutes. But even a “mild” brain injury can have short-term and/or long-term consequences. It is not necessary to have lost consciousness for an injury to the brain to occur. It is frequently the case, in undiagnosed brain injuries, that the person has had several “mild” (grade 1) concussions.

Questions to Ask

Has the person had a blow to the head, exposure to toxins, any disease of the central nervous system?

Ask the person to show you any scars, especially on the head and face. Ask permission to feel the head and examine any “dings or dents”.

Ask how the injury happened and if there are any scars not visible. Ask questions about injuries several different ways, such as...

  • Have you ever been in a car accident?
  • Have you ever felt dazed or stunned after a fall?
  • Have you ever been hit in the head during a fight?

Check to see if there is any record or indication of abuse or beating by asking if the person has been...

  • punched
  • beaten with a stick, board, pipe, or belt buckle
  • beaten with a belt or switch other than on the buttocks
  • been deliberately cut, burned, or thrown down stairs or across a room.