Traumatic Brain Injury Blog

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December 8, 2014

New Research Identifies Reliable Biomarker of Permanent Brain Damage following Concussion

Findings released on November 25, 2014 in the Journal of Neurotrauma indicate that the presence of a blood protein known as SNTF shortly after a sports-related concussion can predict the severity of post-concussion symptoms in professional athletes.

The authors of the study – Robert Simon, PhD, and Douglas H. Smith, MD, professor of neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania – noted upon release of this study of SNTF in concussion patients that

“these observations lend further support to the growing awareness that concussion is not trivial, since it can induce permanent brain damage in some individuals.” Read More

November 18, 2014

Congress Finds Unique Bipartisan Support for Traumatic Brain Injury Programs

On the evening of November 13, 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2539, the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2014, (TBIRA) sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and co-sponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). The next step is for the bill to be signed by President Obama.

With Republicans and Democrats bitterly divided on most public policy issues, it is encouraging to see them come together on how to approach what is now being recognized as a serious public health issue – traumatic brain injury. Read More

October 13, 2014

The Promise of An Effective Drug Treatment for TBI

Researchers at the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute, a leading neuroscience research facility, recently announced the results of research showing that the only drug currently approved to treat the crippling effects of stroke shows promise, when administered as a nasal spray,  to help heal the effects of less severe forms of traumatic brain injury.  This is exciting news, since researchers have been struggling unsuccessfully for years to find an effective drug treatment for TBI. The research results are based on animal studies, so further work will be needed to determine the best dose and window for administration in humans.  Read More

August 28, 2014

NCAA Settles Concussion Class Action Lawsuit

Good News for Future Players, Bad News for Past and Current Players Left to Seek Compensation on an Individual Basis

On July 29, 2014, the NCAA and representatives of college athletes announced an agreement to settle a concussion class action lawsuit that came on the heels of a similar lawsuit against the NFL.  The settlement will need to be approved by the Court, a process that could take several months. It is anticipated that several former athletes experiencing the long-term effects of concussions suffered in college sports will object to the settlement, since it does not provide any direct compensation – unlike the proposed settlement in the NFL case. Players with concussion claims are left to pursue those claims on an individual basis. Read More

July 15, 2014

More Encouraging News Concerning the Recognition and Treatment of Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Several recent developments demonstrate increasing recognition of the serious potential consequences of concussion, and commitment to minimize those consequences through appropriate treatment of concussion:

  1. Physicians have an ethical obligation to become knowledgeable about concussion.

    On June 9, 2014 the American Academy of Neurology, the largest professional association of neurologists, released a position paper stating that doctors have an ethical obligation to educate and protect athletes from sports concussion and clear them to play only when the athlete is medically ready, standing firm against objections from players, athletes and coaches. The statement declares that sports concussion “is a major issue in the world of health care” and requires more attention from physicians. Read More

May 27, 2014

Concussion as a Medical Diagnosis

Different symptom patterns of concussion depend on the precise nature of the damage to the brain

TBI brain imageMedical research is increasingly identifying the various ways a concussion can impact the brain and is providing explanations for why different symptoms persist in a subset of people diagnosed with concussion, based on the anatomy and physiology of the brain.

Much of this recent research has benefited from new techniques to “image” the brain, including various MRI techniques such as “diffusion tensor imaging” (“DTI”).  In a prior post, I discussed research concerning  the subset of concussed patients who experience persistent ocular (vision) and vestibular (balance) problems. A paper published online on April 15, 2014 in the journal Radiology reported that DTI imaging of patients with these symptoms revealed damage in the parts of the brain know to be associated with vision and balance. Read More

May 21, 2014

Neuroendocrine Dysfunction following Traumatic Brain Injury: Could This be a Key to More Successful Treatment?

Recent research has shown that traumatic brain injury, (TBI) including mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI),  can damage and cause dysfunction in the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland located in the center of the skull that releases several essential hormones affecting such functions as growth and metabolism (part of the neuroendocrine system).  Researchers have found that a surprisingly high percentage of patients with persistent symptoms following a TBI show evidence of neuroendocrine dysfunction.

It turns out that the anatomy of this gland makes it particularly susceptible to the sheering injuries seen in TBI. The most common dysfunction found after TBI is deficiency in the Growth Hormone (GH), one of the key hormones released by the pituitary gland. The symptoms of GH deficiency overlap with many persistent TBI symptoms including fatigue, poor memory, depression, emotional lability, lack of concentration and attention difficulties. Read More

April 21, 2014

New Data Supports Importance of Cognitive Rest for Concussion Recovery

Most current guidelines recommend “cognitive rest” during the initial stages of recovery from concussion. “Cognitive rest” involves limiting activities that require attention and concentration such as reading, doing homework, text messaging, playing video games, working online, watching movies and television and listening to music.  Cognitive rest has been recommended in the past based on somewhat limited evidence suggesting that failing to minimize these activities in the early stages following a concussion could delay recovery. Read More

April 11, 2014

“Unprecedented breakthrough” offers potential for recovery from paralysis

Scientists announce dramatic research where epidural stimulation offers potential for recovery from paralysis following spinal cord injury

Nearly six million Americans are living with paralysis, including 1.275 million spinal cord injuries. Most have been told that no recovery is possible and that complete paralysis is permanent. This belief was fundamentally challenged with the announcement on April 8, 2014 by international team of scientists at the University of Louisville, UCLA and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, that four young men who had been paralyzed for years were able to voluntarily move their hips, ankles and toes following the implantation of an epidural electrical stimulator. These results were published in journal Brain. Read More

March 25, 2014

Visual Dysfunctions following Concussion and other Traumatic Brain Injuries

Recent literature has highlighted the prevalence of dysfunctions in vision following traumatic brain injuries of all levels of severity (including concussion.) Research published by the Veterans Administration (VA) in 2012 indicates that the percentage of TBI victims with vision problems could be as high as 60%.  They explain that this prevalence is not surprising, since over 50% of the brain is involved in visual processing. Alvarez et. al. explain how visual and other symptoms occur when the brain is subjected to  “acceleration/deceleration” forces: Read More