Traumatic brain injuries affect the lives 1.7 million Americans each year. Motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries are just two ways in which the human brain can be damaged beyond repair. The problem is that traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can be very hard to diagnose, which also makes them difficult to treat.
The deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said that it can be next to impossible to determine how severely the brain has been injured following a head injury, or if another blow “is really going to cause big trouble,” because the standard scans can only detect bleeding or swelling in the brain.
“You can have a patient with severe swelling who goes on to have a normal recovery, and patients with severe swelling who go on to die,” a neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explained to CBS News.
Thankfully, new technology is being tested that is intended to help doctors locate the injured portion of the brain so treatment can be promptly administered. The tool is used during MRIs and essentially lights up portions of the brain that have been injured like an X-ray shows broken bones.
Brain injuries can range in severity, from minor concussions that heal on their own to TBIs that leave permanent brain damage. People with the most serious brain injuries can experience drastic personality changes and severe mental disabilities.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or some other type of accident in which you suffered a blow to the head, it’s important to be checked out by a physician. Some people with TBIs experience memory loss, changes in mood or other problems, while others experience no immediate symptoms at all.
Source: CBS News, “New technology could change how traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed,” March 2, 2012