Introducing the Brain Injury Screening Tool  

23 September 2021

By Alex Bygrave, Communications Advisor

Professor Alice Theadom from the ACC Concussion Clinical Expert Group spoke at GP21: the conference for general practice about a new tool that has been developed to help health practitioners' assess and manage suspected brain injury (or concussion). 

There are various factors that can affect a patient’s recovery and when assessing a patient with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) it is critical to determine who is at risk of long-term problems. A thorough assessment and timely access to treatment can be the difference between a smooth recovery and persistent TBI symptoms. 

A working group was developed to look at the mild TBI pathway and when reviewing current tools, it was found that they were limited, overly complicated, and didn’t support decision making. As a result, a tool has been developed to help health practitioners assess and treat TBI patients, called the Brain Injury Screening Tool (BIST). 

BIST runs patients through a checklist of 16 items and takes six minutes from start to finish, leaving the practitioner enough time within the 15-minute consult to also provide treatment advice. The beauty of this tool is in its simplicity. It is simple enough to use even with young children. 
The series of questions look at the impact of the patient’s symptoms in the context of their life and the results categorise the patient in terms of their risk factor (low, medium, or high risk). It indicates problem areas to be aware of, suggests additional questions or assessments to be completed, and supports the healthcare professional to confidently assess and treat the TBI patient. Each assessment results in a total symptom score, allowing practitioners to graph their patient’s recovery over time using a standardised outcome assessment. 

BIST is a tool that is simple to use and understand both for practitioners and for patients. It has been implemented since January in some healthcare facilities and is freely available to use for practices that are interested. Read more information about BIST or download the tool.