Obesity Linked to Traumatic Brain Damage

Each Chicago brain injury lawyer at our firm remains surprised by the medical news that continues to come out exploring the long-term effects of brain injuries. Because the brain plays a role in virtually all parts of the human experience, injury to the brain has the potential to affect a wide range of aspects of the victim’s life. We have often mentioned how the injury can affect one’s personality. Of course traumatic brain injuries often also lead to cognition, speech, and physical movement problem. Now, Reuters is reporting that brain damage may play a role in obesity.

The latest research discovery was made as part of scientists’ efforts to better understand why losing weight and, more importantly, keeping it off, is so challenging. What experts have uncovered is that part of the problem is that chronic obesity may be rooted in damage to the part of the brain that is supposed to control weight. The damaged portion of the brain makes it difficult for victims to control their appetite and overall fat storage. Contrary to public perception, at times this has nothing to do with a lack of willpower.

“Yo Yo” dieting is common for many community members. Those who hope to lose weight change their diet and see success-shedding pounds. However, eventually (sometimes quickly), they gain it all back. Scientists are now saying that for some of those serial dieters, the regaining of the weight is rooted in damage to brain cells and neurons in the hypothalamus-the part of the brain that control appetite.

Experts at the Diabetes and Obesity Center at the University of Washington in Seattle who are involved in these latest research efforts admit that the notion that brain damage is connected to obesity is nothing new. For at least the last five years, scientists have understood the connection between the hypothalalmus and obesity. The relationship was first identified in animals. Animals which had inflammation of the hypothalamus were far more likely to be overweight. Unfortunately, inflammation is a typical bodily reaction to traumatic injury. Humans, like all other animals, exhibit the same tendencies. That means that traumatic brain injuries may lead to hypothalamus inflammation and struggles with obesity.

The lead researcher in the project noted that animals forced to overeat experienced inflammation similar to that seen in traumatic brain injury victims. Amazingly, the effect was seen almost immediately, within 24 hours of the overfeeding. In a normal brain, the cells work hard to repair the damage, but when those cells cannot repair it, the harm could be permanent. This latest research adds yet another facet to the overall damage caused by these injuries. When arguing about damages in front of a jury, a brain injury lawyer would obviously explain all of the ways that the victim’s life has been adversely affected by the harm. Yet, there are always some losses, such as the increased risk of obesity, that are hard to calculate and often go without specific redress. It is a reminder that at the end of the day, no matter how big a settlement or verdict, the victims of these incidents are never made fully whole.

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