Brain Injury Screening Tool

NM Brain Injury Advisory Council HELPS | A Brain Injury Screening Tool

  1. Have you ever had an injury to your head or face? 
  2. Have you ever lost consciousness?
  3. Has there been a change in your behavior?
  4. Are you having difficulty concentrating, organizing your thoughts, or remembering?


(Picard et al., 1991) is a brief screening device for determining if a person may have experienced a traumatic brain injury. This set of five standardized questions is especially useful because most initial physical and mental health assessments do not elicit information about possible TBIs (e.g., simply asking if a person had any significant blows to the head is often not enough to produce an accurate response). For various reasons (forgotten trauma, avoidance of stigma, preoccupation with current problems), individuals may not recognize a head injury until specific features, such as loss of consciousness and other symptoms are described to them.

HELPS is administered by reading the following questions to the client:

H | Did you ever hit your head? Were you ever hit on the head?

E | Were you ever seen in an emergency room? (by a doctor or hospitalized?)

L | Did you lose consciousness? For how long?

P | Did you have any problems after you hit your head? (includes list of possible symptoms)

S | Any other significant sickness? (e.g., hospitalizations for brain cancer, meningitis, stroke, heart attack; domestic violence or repeated shaking as a child)

One point is scored for every question answered “yes.” If the client scores two or more points, and particularly if the client’s functioning has been affected (P), then there exists a sign of possible injury and the need for a more extensive interview and medical work-up (Picard et al., 1991). HELPS was designed to be used by professionals whose primary field of practice is other than TBI (chemical dependency counselors, law enforcement officials, state vocational rehabilitation counselors, physicians, and teachers).

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The 3 Question DVBIC TBI Screening Tool was designed to evaluate USA Military Veterans and identify service members who may need further evaluation for mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

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