In our discussions about advances in traumatic brain injury research, the Illinois brain injury attorneys at our firm often discuss basic diagnostic challenges. This is a problem that is somewhat unique to these injuries. The focus of most major health problems is devoted exclusively to a cure or, at least, better management of the symptoms. However, with brain injuries there is the added complication of properly identifying when an injury has occurred at all.
As a major-general in the Army recently observed, “Everyone wants a pregnancy test for TBI.” But that pregnancy-test-like option does not exist. As a result, many individual who suffer these injuries are not diagnosed. They therefore do not receive proper treatment and often suffer extreme complications as a result. A story yesterday from KXAN delves into the topic, discussing the current methods used to diagnose TBI and trials being conducted to test the reliability of various treatments.
The story shares the tale of one Army private as he is engaged in a test, which measures response times via mental games. As part of the test, the taker is asked to name off animals that appear on a screen as quickly as possible. In another portion the taker must click on certain buttons when multiples of three appear on the screen.
The Army private has taken versions of this test many times since he suffered a traumatic brain injury after the truck in which he was riding was hit with an explosive projectile in Basra, Iraq. Following the attack the soldier suffered bruises, broken bones, and most damaging of all, a head injury. However, unlike the physical damage, the brain injury was impossible to see and difficult to describe. He noted that “it was harder to verbalize what I was trying to say. I saw an issue with remembering certain things.”
Our brain injury attorney knows that these are common symptoms for these injury victims. The computerized test that the soldier is taking is meant as a way to examine his functioning. The scores on the test are compared with scores that the same soldier receives before being caught in the explosive blast. The difference in the scores is meant to indicate whether or not a TBI has been suffered.
Beyond testing for the existence of the TBI, these simple computer games also may hold the key to actually treating traumatic brain injuries. The solider in this case is participating in a trial aptly known by its acronym SCORE: Study of Cognitive Rehabilitation Effectiveness. SCORE is one of several trial studies that are targeted at getting medical professionals better tools to help those who suffer these injuries-particularly those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
A part of this particular test, soldiers receive four different types treatments, with the effect of each treatment on overall brain recovery tested and measured. The various types include individual therapy, group therapy, computer exercises, and behavioral health exercises. The trials are just getting underway and are set to continue for at least the next three years. All those involving in the traumatic brain injury world will likely awaiting the results of these and similar research efforts.
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