Whether you are involved in a minor fender bender or a catastrophic collision, you run the risk of receiving a traumatic brain injury as a result of the impact. A sudden jolt to the head can cause the soft tissue of the brain to smack into the hard skull bone. This can cause brain bleeding, bruising and swelling that may lead to immediate signs or can sometimes take several days to appear. While many people fully recover from a mild brain injury or concussion, studies show that even mild injuries can result in long-term brain damage that may have permanent consequences.
The study, published in the medical journal Neurology, found that mild brain injuries can affect people’s cognitive abilities, and some may not be fully repairable. Previously, researchers were unable to study mild brain injuries as they often when undetected on traditional screening devices used to find injuries in the brain. However, researchers discovered that the use of diffusion tensor imaging allowed doctors to see damage done to the white matter of the brain. This is where mild brain injuries occur. The cells of normal white matter appear very structured on the scan, but the cells in a brain injury patient are not.
Researchers studied patients with mild brain injury and charted their damaged areas, as well as their score on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which measures cognitive abilities. They found that mild brain injury patients scored 25% lower on the GCS when compared to people without injuries. Furthermore, a 12-month scan of the patients indicated that some brain damage had not fully healed and patient’s were still experiencing cognitive impairments because of this. This research may be helpful in evaluating treatment and long-term care of mild brain injury patients in the future.