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The Science of Traumatic Brain Injury

One patient suffers a traumatic brain injury that ultimately leads to a permanent brain damage and life changing disabilities requiring continuous and monitored healthcare for the rest of his life, while another patient recovers sufficiently enough to continue an unrestrained lifestyle despite his injuries. Is the difference in the injury, the physical or psychological makeup of the individual, or something else? Could it be that there is a gene that influences the rate of recovery; or whether there is any recovery at all, from brain injury? Science has discovered sufficient evidence to prove that this may be the case.

Scientific researchers are reporting that there may be a variation in the sequence of a gene that, when it occurs, may cause some individuals suffering from disabilities as a result of traumatic brain injury to exhibit disabilities to a more or lesser degree as a result of this gene variation. See Illinois.edu for more on this story.

The BDNF Gene and Its Significance in Treatment of TBI

Researchers in a study of this phenomenon, more specifically described in the journal PLOS ONE, have measured levels of general intelligence in a group of 156 tested Vietnam War veterans suffering from brain injury and possibly PTSD as a result of their involvement in the Vietnam War. The veterans were all suffering from brain injury to the “prefrontal cortex,” which is the brain region behind the forehead, and is responsible for our cognitive processing, including planning, problem-solving, self-restraint and complex thought.

The study included a series of tests to identify where the study participants were with respect to levels of intelligence pre and post brain injury. The researchers collected blood samples from the subject participants for genetic analysis, focusing specifically on the gene known as BDNF or brain derived neurothropic factor. The researchers discovered that a single “polymorphism” (a difference in one “letter” of the sequence) in the BDNF gene resulted in a difference in the tested levels of intelligence amongst individuals with similar brain injuries and pre-injury intelligence levels.

What Does This All Mean, In the Long Run?

Brain injury and its resultant disabilities are suffered by millions of Americans every year. This research may end up being a boon to some hundreds of thousands of brain injury sufferers who needlessly resign themselves to living a life where their disabilities dictate their lifestyle, when in fact, their disabilities may be corrected to a certain degree, if it can be determined early enough that this research and many others currently being studied, can assist in their recovery.

Even now, there is not enough known about the brain and how it functions. Research into this area is like a “new frontier,” and is much needed if we are going to further the care and treatment of those suffering from brain injury disabilities. In that regard, it is paramount that this research and others are encouraged and supported.

Brain injury leading to either disability or death as a result of brain damage is a very serious matter. To consult with an experienced brain injury attorney on this issue, or if you or a loved one is suffering from a brain injury or a brain trauma due to the actions of another, contact Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation.