Articles Posted in Brain Injury Resources

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As researchers and doctors continue searching for innovative methods of diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), there is optimism about a new test that not only detects the presence of TBI, but reportedly determines its level of severity as well. According to a report in Psych Central, a research study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma uses protein levels in the blood to diagnose TBIs and determine how severe the injury has become.

The Study Details
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Members of the United States Armed Forces face challenges that most civilians find hard to even imagine. In addition to the risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that many face on the battlefields, these brave individuals often suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well. A recent report by Psych Central discusses a study to better understand the similarities between TBIs and PTSD, which often affect patients simultaneously.

What is a TBI?

The National institute of Health (NIH) defines a TBI as damage to the brain that is caused by an external force. The level of severity can range from a mild concussion to extensive loss of consciousness, amnesia and cognitive impairments.

What is PTSD?
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When trauma affects the brain, the consequences can range from a temporary concussion to a lifetime of physical disabilities and neurological complications. While the prevalence of sports concussions is commonly reported in the news, researchers are also focusing on the long term affects of a traumatic injury on the brain. MedicineNet is reporting about a recent study, which suggests that premature aging of the brain is consequence of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The British study reportedly found that severely traumatized brains showed structural changes similar to those found in healthy older brains.

The Study Details

According to the report, study researchers examined the brain scans of 99 patients, suffering from TBIs. The causes of injury included automobile accidents, falls and physical assaults. The time of initial injury ranged from one month to more than 40 years, and each of the participants reported persistent neurological complications, even years later. The brain scans were then compared to scans taken from individuals with no history of TBI.
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Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are linked to a variety of negative behaviors and circumstances. Studies have found connections between these conditions and the development of dementia, as well as incarceration rates. Researchers recently undertook a new study to examine a possible connection between traumatic head injuries and drug use. They concluded that teenagers with TBIs are between two and four times more likely to use illegal drugs than those with no history of brain injury.

The research was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation and featured in an article by the medical website, Health Canal. The study reportedly examined drug use among more than 6,000 Canadian students in ninth through twelfth grades. Students were given a survey, which questioned them about their drug use and history of traumatic brain injury. For the purposes of the study, TBIs were reportedly defined as a strike to the head leading to a knockout of at least five minutes or a night in the hospital for treatment of side effects related to the brain injury. While the survey was able to document links between the two, it did not provide information about whether the drug use or TBI occurred first.
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First response medical teams may soon possess a new tool in the race to prevent the serious effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to a report by WKRC News, a national drug trial is underway to test a new medication that is administered to accident victims before they even arrive at the hospital. Ten emergency medical systems around the country are currently testing tanexamic acid (TXA), to determine its effectiveness when used after serious accidents. Researchers expect to learn more about the benefits of the drug’s administration in comparison to incidents where the drug is withheld.

TXA is reportedly a synthetic form of lysine, an amino acid. It is commonly used during surgeries to prevent life threatening amounts of blood loss. The military currently utilizes it as a regular form of treatment on the battlefield, along with several civilian hospitals. Though it is reportedly considered safe for use, its effectiveness against brain injury complications was never before studied. According to the article, traumatic brain injuries often involve bleeding within the head. The asserted rationale behind the study is that TXA can stop any bleeding that may be occurring.

Under the study, TXA is administered as soon as emergency response teams determine that a traumatic brain injury occurred. The drug is administered even if the patient is not conscious and unable to give consent. The federal government allows this to occur under specific drug trials, where an “exception from informed consent.” Participating states do offer residents an opt out option, which involves an arm bracelet to alert first responders.

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Traumatic brain injuries comes in many different forms. The most severe TBIs often cause immense and permanent physical damage. They are frequently accompanied by other outward signs of injuries–broken bones, muscle tears, cuts, and more.

Less severe TBIs (though not necessarily “mild”) are often harder to diagnose and understand. The symptoms may be more nuanced and those affected frequently show no other major signs of injury. But even these brain injuries can greatly impact one’s life.

The Medical Complexities

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The “Holy Grail” for medical professional working with traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims is a method to heal parts of the brain previously damaged. Up until now, most of the work of these teams was learning how to prevent further damage and maximize the strength of undamaged parts of the brain. For example, the increasing use of “brain cooling” procedures is seen as a way to prevent the cascade of brain damage the occurs even after an initial injury. Also, therapies used in recovery are mostly aimed at strengthening and rejuvenating parts of the brain previously undamaged by the incident–not necessarily “fixing” the components that were harmed. The actual regeneration of damaged brain tissue is a whole other matter.

All of this means,unfortunately, that TBI victims–particularly those with the most serious injuries–may struggle to ever to get their lives back exactly as they were before an accident.

However, medical researchers continue to break new ground which may offer more hope to those seriously affected by a TBI. In fact, as reported this week by Medical Express, new advances from researchers at the Sagol School of Neuroscience suggest that “it is possible to repair brains and improve the quality of life for TBI victims, even years after the occurrence of the injury.”

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Earlier this month we shared thoughts from a brain injury attorney at our firm regarding the continuing concerns about the conduct of the National Football League and traumatic brain injury. While an apparent settlement was reached between some players and the NFL last month, that possible agreement in no way ends the matter. There are still many uncompensated athletes and unanswered questions from the league.

ESPN Story

In fact, just this week an ESPN “Outside the Lines” story provided an in-depth look at a new book which argues that “the NFL used its power to deny a link between playing football and brain damage.”

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Perhaps no area of study today is more fascinating than neuroscience. As researchers delve into the mysteries of the brain, many assumptions are shattered about how and why people act the way they do. At the same time, new knowledge regarding how the brain works is the crucial variable needed to ultimately discover new treatment methods for brain injuries, from TBIs to degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

On that front, several news outlets reported last week on the release of a new report from the National Institute of Health (NIH) on the future of neuroscience. The report (view it online here) is worth reading in depth for all of those who want a thorough understanding of what is known and unknown about the body’s most complex organ.

Fulfilling the BRAIN Initiative

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It is the million-dollar goal in traumatic brain injury (TBI) research: finding an actual treatment option to treat a TBI. As we have often discussed, with the brain remaining so mysterious, it is currently next to impossible to do anything about a TBI other than deal with the consequences as much as possible. Rehabilitation and therapy are the main tools available to TBI sufferers to get their lives back together after an accident.

Researchers have been working very hard to break through with actual treatment options that can minimize brain damage after the initial incident. If successful, these advances would be truly revolutionary, preventing significant deterioration and greatly improving the lives of those hurt in car accidents, falls, and many other incidents that frequently cause TBI.

Are Hormones the Answer?