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Study Reveals Which Part of Brain May Be Most Susceptible to Injury

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges traumatic brain injury as a leading cause of both death and disability in the United States.  Even a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI, also known as a concussion) can have lasting emotional, cognitive, and physical effects.  Now Philly.com reports on a new study that sheds light on how and where lasting harm from mTBIs occurs in the brain.

Long-term damage from multiple mTBIs

The study, performed by researchers in Seattle on veterans who had experienced repeated mTBIs in Iraq and Afghanistan, indicates that the cerebellum is particularly vulnerable to multiple concussive injuries.  The cerebellum is responsible for coordinating movements and balance, and it also plays a role in some cognitive activities such as the ability to learn and remember.  The scientists reviewed brain scans from the veterans, some of whom had experienced as many as 100 mTBIs.  They also looked at similar research on mice, whose cerebellums share broad similarities with those of humans.

The Seattle researchers discovered that the more mTBIs a veteran had experienced, the lower the levels of glucose metabolism (an indicator of brain activity) in the cerebellum.  They detected similar damage in mice that had been exposed to “shock tubes” to test simulated blast exposure.  The mice showed ruptures in parts of the blood-brain barrier and a loss of certain neurons in the cerebellum, as well as a buildup of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  Both mice and humans also sustained damage to the fibers that connect areas across the brain, and other structural damage to the cerebellum.  According to Dr. Brent Masel, the national medical director for the Brain Injury Association of America (who was not involved in this research), the study offers potentially significant insight into the chronic harm that can result from multiple repeated concussions.

Signs of mild traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury is caused by a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury that interrupts the brain’s normal function.  TBIs can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the blow.  Most TBIs are mild, and their leading cause is falls. Concussions, or mTBIs, have become an increasing issue in the sports world, both for professionals and children.

According to the CDC, most people who experience a concussion recover relatively quickly and fully.  But a person’s susceptibility to concussion, as well as the time required to recover, increase with each instance.  Some of the signs of concussion are:

  • difficulty thinking clearly;
  • irritability;
  • headache;
  • fuzzy or blurred vision;
  • sleeping too much;
  • sleeping too little;
  • nausea or vomiting;
  • sensitivity to light;
  • difficulty concentrating; and
  • nervousness or anxiety.

Concussion symptoms may appear immediately or manifest over several days following an injury.  If you suspect concussion, it is important to seek medical attention.

Reach out to a Philadelphia brain injury attorney

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury because of someone else’s actions or negligence, reach out to the experienced Philadelphia brain injury attorneys of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C.  Call us at (215) 567-3500 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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