Articles Posted in Brain Injury Detection

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There are certain types of head injuries that can cause trauma to the brain with such force that it may result in a fatal injury, or leave the sufferer with some form of brain damage. Closed head brain injuries, often diagnosed as “blunt force trauma” or “shaken baby syndrome” are those types of injuries.

With a closed head type of brain injury, the head is struck by an instrument that does not penetrate the skull, or the head is shaken in such a way that causes the brain to move about the skull in such a violent manner, causing injury. Open head brain injuries, on the other hand, is where an object striking the head penetrates the skull and impacts with the brain, causing damage. The closed head brain injury is the type of brain injury that is considered to be the leading cause of fatal brain trauma in children under four, and accounts for about 75% of an estimated 1.7 million annual brain trauma injuries in the United States. These types of brain injuries range from mild to severe, and can affect the entire brain or only certain portions of it. For more information on closed head brain trauma, see BrainandSpinalCord.org.

The primary causes of closed head brain injuries are auto accidents, slip and falls, assaults where the victim is struck in the head with a blunt instrument, and sports related injuries, to name a few. Slip and fall closed head brain injuries amongst children four years of age and under, and older adults 75 years and older account for about 35% of such injuries, and demographics indicate that boys and men are at a higher risk. Percussion injuries from explosives are also within the category of closed head injuries for veterans returning from war zones.

The following is a list of the certain types of closed head brain trauma that are most common:
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Accidents and injuries involving head trauma, should never be ignored. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that at least 1.4 million Americans suffer from some type of brain trauma every year, due to accidents involving injuries to the head, including auto accidents and fall injuries, or the intentional acts of others, including assault and batteries.

Some brain trauma injuries are exasperated during medical procedures performed in a negligent manner after treatment is commenced for the original injury. In some incidents, brain injuries may be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, leaving the injury untreated. But, however, some injuries are not treated because the individual, who has suffered the accident, does not believe there is any reason to be alarm. In such cases, these individuals do not seek medical treatment until it is too late.
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We hear a lot of talk about street drugs and how bad they are for us; how they can result in brain injury and possibly death; but how about prescription drugs, their use and often misuse and abuse. What affect does the myriad of drugs prescribed to us by our healthcare providers for any ailment from “A” to “Z” have on our brain and our physical well being.

There are many different types of drugs prescribed to individuals as part of their normal treatment for illnesses and diseases. Some individuals must take these prescription drugs for long periods of time, and some may have to take these drugs for the rest of their lives. The risk is high that these individuals may eventually become addicted to these drugs over time, in that they will develop cravings for the drug that have nothing to do with the original illness for which the drug was prescribed.
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Brain hypoxia occurs when the brain has been deprived of oxygen to a point where the brain cells may either be damaged or destroyed altogether. Lack of oxygen to the brain is a major contributor to brain injury, and sometimes leads to debilitating brain damage or death. Your brain needs a constant uninterrupted flow of oxygen to remain healthy. See Healthline. When deprived of oxygen, even for a relatively short period of time, brain damage can occur. Your brain cells begin to die off after about 1 minute without oxygen. After 3 minutes, the brain may be seriously injured, and after 10 to 15 minutes, recovery is very unlikely.

Common Causes of Brain Hypoxia
Some well known causes of brain hypoxia are drowning, choking; suffocation due to the inhalation of carbon monoxide or smoke; the period suffered during a cardiac arrest.

Some medical conditions may also cause brain hypoxia due to inherent breathing difficulties such as asthma; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); pneumonia; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in premature babies; and cystic fibrosis. (See NHLBI) These conditions will require ongoing medical attention, and must be monitored very closely by your physician. With the exception of pneumonia, these conditions are lifelong illness, not curable, and may be terminal with respect to the life expectancy of the person afflicted with the disease.
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A new study is championing the benefits of a procedure that may lead to better treatment for brain injury patients in the military. According to an article in US News and World Report, brain imaging is proving helpful in the identification of microbleeding inside the brain, following a a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This condition can lead to additional complications, including stroke or swelling of the brain, so early diagnosis is extremely valuable.

Details of the Study

The study involved the examination of 603 military personnel, with previous TBI diagnoses. An average of 856 days passed between the onset of injury and the provision on an MRI. The participants were divided into injuries that occurred within the past three months and those that occurred more than three months prior.
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Early detection of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is essential to proper treatment and prevention of further injury. Unfortunately, the condition, which is often called the “invisible injury”, often proves difficult to diagnose because the brain’s complexity. For this reason, medical professionals generally rely on physical abnormalities as an indicator of brain injury. Particularly among sporting professionals, the search for adequate early detection techniques is continuous. According to a recent article by the NYU Langone Medical Center, researchers believe that vision testing may prove to be a valuable tool in the early detection of concussions.

Administration of the Test

Athletes are shown a series of numbers from reading cards and asked to name them as quickly as they can, while being timed. The test is given at the start of the season to establish a baseline score. During games, when a concussion is suspected, the athlete is given the same test on the sidelines. The results are then compared with the baseline scores. Slower times alert the coaching staff to the possibility of a concussion.

Researchers explain that vision tests are useful due to the connection between the brain and the ability to see. When brain injuries occur, the pathways are often disrupted and vision is impaired. Past studies have exemplified that decreased scores commonly occur in patients with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
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The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is a continuous challenge for the United States military. The conditions that soldiers face in battle are conducive to mild and serious concussions, which left untreated, can evolve into lasting injuries to the brain. In response, researchers are constantly looking for productive methods of diagnosis and treatment, even in the chaotic heat of battle. Medscape is reporting about a possible new method of diagnosing brain injuries on the battlefield and it focuses on the sense of smell.

The Study Details

The study was reportedly conducted by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. It included 231 soldiers who were injured following battle explosions in Iraq or Afghanistan. All of the soldiers were immediately air lifted to Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Using the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), physicians evaluated the soldiers for TBI. According to the report, the patients with mild or no brain injuries exemplified normal senses of smell. Soldiers with severe brain injuries were found to have olfactory impairment, meaning their sense of smell was abnormal.
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Each year, thousands of people die from brain injuries or the complications they cause. The Centers for Disease Control characterize traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as a serious public health issue, occurring at a rate of about 2.5 million incidents each year. They generally occur when the head is jolted or bumped violently, which commonly happens during sports play, car accidents or physical attacks. For victims that survive their injuries, certain brain functions may become permanently impaired. TBIs range in seriousness from mild concussions to severe episodes of unconsciousness. Though TBIs affect individuals in different ways, new research suggests that affected military personnel may suffer from a previously undiagnosed type of TBI.

USA Today is reporting about a recent study regarding young soldiers who died after being caught in violent wartime blasts. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied the brains of five deceased soldiers who died between the ages of 23 and 38. Each of the individuals were survivors of one or more combat blasts, but died some time later. When studying the patterns of the brains, researchers reportedly found lesions that differed from those normally seen in brain injury cases. According to the report, the physicians described honeycomb patterns of damage, spread across various areas of the brain.

Vassilis Koliatsos is professor of pathology, neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins. he co-authored the study and is quoted in the article as stating, “We saw a pattern that we had not seen before.” He went on to explain that military troops have not been exposed to this level of repeated blasts since World War I, when the trenches where soldiers took cover were subjected to explosives and blasts repeatedly.
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Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are common among military personnel, especially those involved in active duty. As reported by the website military.com, concussions are the most common combat related injuries. Violent blasts, falls and strikes to the head may all cause soldiers to experience concussions. These occurrences may be mild, with symptoms that only last a few minutes or hours. Median level concussions are the most common, with symptoms lasting a few months and a small percentage of soldiers experience the most serious TBIs, with symptoms that persist for months and even years. The US military actively works to prevent, diagnose and treat TBIs in the most effective an efficient manner possible. According to recent reports, the Army has a new tool in its fight against this serious condition.

Army Times is reporting that the Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment (DANA) is helping medics to more quickly diagnose the existence and seriousness of TBIs. With the assistance of a cellular phone application, information about a soldiers condition is instantly shared with other physicians, even if the soldier is on the battlefield. Here’s how it works. The soldier is given a series of tests that are conducted like a video game. The testing can last anywhere from five to forty five minutes and measures the soldier’s speed and accuracy when responding to the questions. The scores are then sent to a medical provider, who analyzes them for possible TBI indications. The army likens this to measuring the temperature of the brain, so DANA is commonly referred to as a “brain thermometer”.
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Victims of traumatic brain injuries generally exhibit numerous symptoms. However, there are rare occasions when the victim demonstrates no indication of injury, followed by a severe medical emergency. Termed “talk and die syndrome”, the condition can prove critical and even fatal if it is not caught in time. Though they are both classified as traumatic brain injuries, the syndrome differs from a concussion in the type of damage that occurs inside the skull and brain.

“Talk and die syndrome” gained national exposure in 2009 when an award winning actress was killed following a ski accident. According to a report in the New York Times, Natasha Richardson suffered a brain injury while on a skiing vacation. She fell during a lesson and while she was not wearing a helmet, her fall was reportedly not serious. Witnesses stated that she appeared fine, showing no signs of injury. About an hour after the incident, Richardson reportedly began feeling ill and she was taken to an area hospital, where she ultimately died. In the days following, medical experts concluded that her death was a result of “talk and die syndrome”.

What is “Talk and Die”
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