Trauma to the head is a big deal and the injuries that result from even a closed head wound can be quite serious. Unfortunately, head trauma is very common, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting as many as 1.7 million people annually experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The majority of the TBI victims are hurt in car accidents, falls or because of violence and as many as 75 percent of the victims suffer concussions.
Concussions may seem like a relatively minor injury, with the disruption to the brain’s normal function causing mild symptoms for a brief period of time, including sensitivity to light and sound or mood changes. The reality, however, is that a concussion can be a serious health problem and the disruption to the brain can last for a long time. Traumatic brain injury lawyers in Johnson City know that new studies suggest that a person who suffers a concussion will show signs of lasting change to the prefrontal cortex of the brain even four months after the initial injury occurred.
Concussions Can Cause Lasting Brain Changes
The new study on the lasting impact of a concussion was conducted by researchers from the University of New Mexico and published in the medical journal Neurology. There were 26 participants who had suffered a mild head trauma and concussion and there were 26 participants who had not experienced a head injury and served as a healthy control group.
All of the subjects in the study had behavioral testing conducted 14 days after the victims of the head trauma suffered their concussions and had the behavioral testing redone four months after the initial injury. At the same time, study participants were given a diffusion MRI. A diffusion MRI can reveal more about the structure and the architecture of the brain than other types of testing such as CT-scans and traditional MRIs because the diffusion MRI traces water and other molecules through the brain. As a result, disruptions in the structure of the brain could be seen on a diffusion MRI that would not otherwise be visible on most tests.
The diffusion MRI revealed some troubling information about the brains of those individuals who had suffered a concussion. In the prefrontal cortex of the concussion victims, there is 10 percent more fractional anisotropy in the brain’s grey matter even four months after concussion, as compared with those who did not suffer a concussion.
The higher FA may be a symptom of the fact that the brain is still trying to heal, or could be caused by fluid that remains in the brain because of the concussion. It could also be an indicator of changes to the structural cells of the brain. It is not clear specifically why the increase occurred, but the fact that the brain still looks different so long after the injury is cause for major concern.
The outcome of the behavioral testing also shows that even months after the injury, the concussed victims did not perform as well as the healthy test subjects on memory or cognitive function. This is bad news for brain injury victims as it suggests that even those with a simple concussion have a long road to healing.
Meade Injury Law Group serves Johnson City and the Tri-Cities. Call today at (423) 464-7779 for a free case consultation.