Though those suffering from mild traumatic brain injuries make up the largest group of those affected by traumatic brain injury, they receive much less research attention than severe traumatic brain injuries. However, a recent study published in Neurology found that mild traumatic brain injury may impact patients’ cognition and brain matter, and may lead to lasting effects.
According to the study’s author, Andrew Blamire, a professor of magnetic resonance physics at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, the “focus was really on the mild end…because they’re by far the biggest group of patients when looking at TBI breakdowns— 90 percent of patients have mild to moderate injuries.” The study attempted to understand what happens to the brain immediately after an injury. They discovered that many individuals did suffer from cognitive problems. However, there is no way of knowing if these will be ongoing problems without further research.
The study gathered data from a range of patients, including 44 persons suffering from mild traumatic brain injury, nine persons suffering from moderate traumatic brain injury and a control group of 33 patients who have not suffered traumatic brain injury. The study used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which is a method of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that is routinely used for imaging the brain of a patient suffering from a stroke or other severe trauma. Using contrasting brightness, the DTI image can reveal healthy brain tissue or the absence of it. Brighter images reveal healthier brains.
The patients also underwent a GSC test to analyze their responsiveness in three specific areas, including eye movement, verbal activity, and overall movement. A healthy patient should score a 15, while those who score between 12 and 15 are considered to have a mild brain injury. A score below 9 reveals a severe brain injury. The study found that participants who have suffered a brain injury also have GCS scores 25 percent lower than the healthy participants.
A 12-month follow up revealed that the majority of mild brain injury patients had improvements in their cognitive function. However, their brain scans showed some areas of improvement while others had not changed. Blamire noted that this 12-month follow up is important because any damage of the brain that remains after one year is considered to be permanent. Blamire concluded that the brain may also rewire itself to cope with the damage, which can explain an improvement in cognitive function but no improvement on the brain scan.
Blamire concluded that “[DTI] reveals the true level and extent of injury for the first time…It goes toward helping understand the relationship between the clinical status of a patient and what’s happening to the brain in a way that we haven’t been able to do before.”
Even mild traumatic brain injury is serious, and can have lasting effects. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury in an accident, there may be legal actions you can take to seek compensation for damages. Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Gilleon Law Firm, APC in San Diego today for a free initial consultation to begin building your case.