Archive for January, 2014

Jan 2014

New Data on Brain Injuries Cause for Concern

Head injuries are among the most serious injuries that you can suffer in an accident.  As the CDC reports, brain injuries are a contributing factor to just over 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States every single year, and the direct and indirect costs of brain injuries exceeds $76.5 billion annually. 

When many people think of brain injuries, they think of serious head trauma that results in a loss of consciousness or a coma. While it is true that these types of injuries occur often, an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer in Riverside knows that the most common type of brain injury is actually a concussion. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has indicated that around 75 percent of all brain injuries that occur each year are concussions.  The prevalence of concussions among injury victims makes a new study published in the medical journal Neurology especially troubling.

Concussions Can Cause Lasting Changes to the Brain

To determine the impact of a concussion, researchers from the University of New Mexico conducted a study in which victims of recent head injuries were given a special type of brain scan called a diffusion MRI. A total of 26 patients who had experienced mild concussions were tested both 14 days after their initial injury and again four months after their injuries occurred. The diffusion MRI is a medical test that allows the mapping of the diffusion process of water and other molecules in biological tissue. The same tests were performed on another 26 participants in the study who had not experienced brain injuries in the past.

The diffusion MRI revealed that the gray matter in the prefrontal cortex was still damaged in the concussion patients even four months after the original trauma had occurred. Standard MRI tests and CT-scans likely would not reveal the damage, but the diffusion MRI better reflects the underlying structure and architecture of the brain. As a result, it was possible to see that the gray matter in the brains of concussion victims had around 10 percent more fractional anisotrophy than the brains of the control subjects. It is not clear whether this increased FA is a sign of the lingering effect of fluid accumulating in the brain because of the concussion; if the increased FA is a result of a change in the shape of the brain’s structural cells; or if the increased FA is a sign of healing.

The study did, however, suggest that the difference in brain matter also translated to a difference in behavior. When the study subjects underwent the diffusion MRI, they were also given behavioral and memory tests at the same time. The people with the concussions performed slightly worse on both tests that measure memory and tests that measure attention, which is consistent with previous data on concussions.

The news that even a simple concussion can have a lasting impact on the brain’s structure and on cognitive function is disturbing. It is important for victims of all brain injuries to understand the extent of damage their injuries caused before accepting a settlement and while pursuing a claim for injury compensation so they can ensure they receive full compensation for the extent of injury suffered.

The Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton has offices in Riverside, CA. Call 949.757.0707 today to schedule a free consultation.