Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Traumatic brain injury

You do not want to knock your noggin, not even a nudge!

Used to be, if a head-injured patient didn't lose consciousness, we didn't call it a concussion. Increasing evidence confirms, however, that any blow to the brain, including those that seem relatively minor, can lead to serious problems.

Canadian researchers looked at 69 traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients*. While the investigators measured injury severity by the depth of coma or degree of altered consciousness, they soon found out that even those who had walked out of the ER post-trauma demonstrated significant changes on MRI scanning one year after the fact. And, surprisingly, these high resolution scans showed that the white matter --that deep portion of the brain that contains crucial connections between nerve cell bodies-- sustained the biggest tissue loss in the walking wounded as well as those who were down for the count.

White matter matters have been a been a matter of some attention since MRI technology has come into vogue. White matter injuries that show up as bright spots on the brain are common with aging and correlated with cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension. The more that's the matter with a person's white matter, the more likely they are to have trouble carrying out complex mental tasks. This same sort of cognitive difficulty is seen in post-TBI patients, and now we know why.
*Levine, B, et al. Neurology, March, 2008.

1 comment:

JeanMac said...

So, poor brains of boxers, hockey players, etc. Both our sons played rep hockey and it got rough out there.
Once, our younger son, was smacked by a puck on the side of his face - out cold. Only "visible" damage, a very small laceration in his mouth.He was a spectator and about 6 yr. old.