According to the latest research results presented in the literature changes in propagating waves are one of the most promising parameters for damage identification algorithms. Numerous publications describe methods of damage identification based on the analysis of signals reflected from damage. They also include complicated signal processing techniques. Such methods work well for damage localisation, but it is rather difficult to use them in order to estimate the size of damage. It is natural that propagating wave reflects from any structural discontinuity. The bigger the disturbance the bigger part of a propagating wave reflects from it. The amount of energy reflected and transmitted through any discontinuity can expressed as reflection and transmission coefficients. In the literature different application for these coefficients may be found – the most often cited application is connected with localising changes in the geometry of structures. Changes in the coefficients due to cross section variations in rods and beams or due to existence of stiffeners in plates are well documented. However there are no application of using the reflection and transmission coefficients for damage size identification. For this reason the analysis presented in this paper has been carried out. The article presents a method of damage identification in 1D elements based on the wave propagation phenomenon and changes in reflection and transmission coefficients. The changes in transmission and reflection coefficients for waves propagating in isotropic rods with different types of damage have been analysed. The rods have been modelled with the elementary, two and three mode theories or rods. For numerical modelling the Spectral Finite Element Method has been used. Several examples are given in the paper.