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Study: Mild TBI may have long-lasting effects

When people are involved in an automobile collision, a slip-and-fall accident or have an object fall on their head, they may receive a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain damage can potentially cause long-term damage, which can make it difficult for people to return to work and engage in simple everyday activities. Although there have been many studies done on moderate to severe brain injuries, less research has shown the effects of mild brain injuries on victims.  A recent study published in Neurology found that even mild brain injuries can cause long-lasting cognitive damage in people who have been through minor accidents.

Up until recently, traditional screening devices did not show brain trauma in the white matter of the brain. Researchers found that a type of magnetic resonance imaging, known as diffusion tensor imaging, shows these areas. Healthy brains will appear orderly and structured on the scan, while any damage in cells will show with a varied brightness. This helps physicians pinpoint the area of injury.

The study showed that one year after the injury date, patients with mild cognitive damage showed an improvement in function. However, there were signs of cognitive impairment. After the one-year-mark, that impairment may be noted as permanent. Medical treatment and therapy can help the brain to rewire itself and improve the patient’s overall functioning. Yet some patients still experienced difficulties concentrating, remembering and performing in certain areas. In some cases, patients’ experienced lingering sensory deficiencies, making it hard for them to return to work in certain job industries. Overall, mild brain injuries can have a major effect on peoples’ lives.

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