A team of researchers recently conducted a study on the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) — but one that was meant to contrast with previous studies done on the topic. Many prior researchers focused on professional football players, boxers, and other athletes who are subject to repeated blows to the head in order to determine the effects of TBI, but few studies are done on the effects of a single event such as a car accident, violent assault, or slip and fall.
The new study looks at the immediate effects during single event TBIs as well as effects when many years have passed. According to the studies, changes in the brain and body can last for a long time.
The paper was published in Science Translational Medicine. The researchers used brain scans taken from victims of single event TBIs — but only those whose accidents were decades old. On average, the scans were taken from victims whose injuries occurred 31 years earlier. The scans showed a phenomenon called “tau,” which is a symptom also seen in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (phosphorylated tau, specifically).
This form of phosphorylated tau used to be difficult to diagnose from brain scans, which would instead diagnose diseases like dementia or depression instead. Unfortunately those diagnoses only occurred after the patient had died, so they were useless for preventative care, and instead only useful for research.
Dr. Nikos Gorgoraptis, an Imperial College London neurologist who authored the research paper, said, “It is important to be able to detect tau in the brain during a person’s lifetime, as this in the future might lead to timely treatment to slow down dementia in this vulnerable patient population.”
21 subjects of the study were tested for phosphorylated tau, and about two-thirds of the group showed signs of the condition compared to the control group, who showed no signs.
The team wrote, “As predicted, there was considerable variability in the extent of flortaucipir binding across TBI participants. Broadly, a third of TBI participants showed extensive increases in cerebral flortaucipir binding, a third showed more limited increases, and a third showed no abnormality.”
The study continued, “The proportion of individuals with increased flortaucipir binding is much higher than would be expected in the general population in this age group. At the group level, TBI participants showed elevated flortaucipir binding when compared to age- and educated-matched healthy controls.”
The point is this: single event TBI can be almost as damaging to the health of the individual in some cases. If you were subject to a TBI and you believe you are owed compensation for your injuries, contact a personal injury attorney today.