The Latest Research on Traumatic Brain Injury (#TBI): Causes, Diagnostics, Treatments

While waiting at my neurologist’s office for my second appointment (at which I was cleared to return to regular activities, unrestricted, like WRITING MY BOOKS! YIPPEE!), I read a fascinating article, “Tracking Traumatic Brain Injury: What New Biomarkers May Reveal About Concussion Over the Short and Long Term,” by Gina Shaw, about the latest and greatest advances in Traumatic Brain Injury (#TBI).

Having suffered a “mild-to-moderate” #concussion myself on April 6, I have a keen interest in all of these topics.

The links and website for the article and magazine are below. First, my favorite parts are summarized or quoted, here. [There were no images with the article, so I went and found some (Thanks to Google images!).]

1. “Despite years of research into traumatic brain injury (TBI), the tests currently available to neurologists, emergency physicians, and other experts can’t reliably identify who has sustained a TBI after a blow to the head, and who has not.” [emphasis is mine]

2. “Damage to neurons occurring after a mild to moderate TBI–called axonal injury–is not revealed on these [CT] scans.” [emphasis is mine]

The image I found, below, is generated by one of the latest diagnostic tools, Diffuse Tensor Imaging, or DTI (see #6, below).

TBI Diffuse Axonal Injury

image from, “Diffuse Axonal Injury (TBI)”

3. “‘Some studies indicate that having had even a “mild” TBI in early or midlife may increase the risk for dementia in late life, probably at least twofold.'” states Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, M.D., Ph.D., Fellow of the AAN [American Academy of Neurology], director of clinical research at the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the uniformed services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. [emphasis is mine]

4. Even a mild to moderate TBI causes an Axonal Injury = one that disrupts the brain’s structure and chemistry on a cellular level. [emphasis is mine]

TBI Amyloid Plaque over time

image from, “Amyloid plaques in a cross-section of TBI patients.”

5. 2013 research shows that the same plaque (made of amyloid, a brain protein) that is distributed widely in the brains of and that causes dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is found at the site of a TBI, even a mild one. Some researchers are using the anti-amyloid drugs given to AD patients on TBI injuries to avoid or lessen the likelihood of later dementia.

6. There is a new type of MRI called Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) that is promising for seeing the neurological damage caused by TBIs in ways no other diagnostics are currently able to do. This will also aid in detecting where an injured person is in their recovery.

DTI of mild TBI

image from, “Advances in Neuroimaging in Detecting Brain Abnormality in ‘Mild’ Traumatic Brain Injury”

The article describes many other “in the field” (literally, athletic fields, for one) diagnostic tools about to become widely available to determine the extent or presence of a TBI in someone who was knocked on the head.

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