Traumatic Brain Injury Blog


Tagged with “2015 TBI conf”

August 13, 2015

Study Links Tau Protein with Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms

Research from the National Institute of Health, published in the August 3, 2015 issue of JAMA Neurology, shows that a protein that was until recently linked only to acute symptoms following traumatic brain injury, may also be responsible for chronic neurological symptoms, such as headache and dizziness,  found in patients diagnosed with persistent post-concussion syndrome.

Tau is a protein known to play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Using ultra-sensitive technology, the researchers measured levels of tau in the blood months and years after injury. These levels correlated with the severity of post-concussive symptoms. If these findings are further confirmed, this could be the first biomarker that is sensitive and specific to ongoing TBI symptoms. Read More

June 17, 2015

A Surprisingly High Percentage of Uncomplicated MTBIs have Persistent Deficits and Require Ongoing Therapy

The April, 2015 issue of The American Surgeon reports on a retrospective study of 395 patients admitted to the ER following concussions (MTBI, or mild traumatic brain injury). The patients had “normal” Glascow Coma scores of 15 and normal CT scans and therefore met discharge criteria. The study found that a surprisingly high percentage of these patients (27%) had persistent deficits after neurocognitive testing and benefitted from referral for ongoing therapy.  The study is authored by Hartwell et. al. and entitled “You Cannot Go Home: Routine Concussion Evaluation is Not Enough.” Read More

May 28, 2015

A New Paradigm for Understanding Incapacitating Post-Concussion Syndrome

In a study published in April 2015 in the medical journal Brain Behavior and Immunity, a team of Canadian researchers at McMaster University presents a new understanding of the cause of the wide-array of symptoms experienced by some patients following concussion, such as headaches, dizziness, sleep disturbance, fatigue, cognitive impairment and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

This new paradigm helps to explain why the same pattern of symptoms can be found in some non-head injury patients, such a patient who has experienced infections or a patient diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. It also helps to explain why some patients recover and others do not and why pre-accident experience can influence the course of post-accident recovery. Read More

April 30, 2015

Link between TBI and Alzheimers: The Bad News and the Good News

The latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience (April 22, 2015) reports on animal research from the University of Kentucky which “adds to an increasing body of knowledge strongly indicating that traumatic brain injury is a contributor to increased susceptibility to Alzheimer’s Disease-relevant pathologies, including cognitive dysfunction.”

The authors begin by noting that “epidemiological studies have associated increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease-related clinical symptoms with a medical history of head injury,” but that “little is known about the pathophysiological mechanisms linked to this association.” Prior studies, as well as this study, did find that persistent neuroinflammation is one outcome observed in patients after a single head injury. Read More

January 5, 2015

The verdict is clear: diffusion tensor imaging demonstrates damage to the brain associated with mild traumatic brain injury

The weight of scientific evidence demonstrates that “diffusion tensor imaging” is an effective tool for demonstrating damage to the white matter of the brain associated with mild traumatic brain injury.

The damage typically associated with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is in the axons, the microscopic fiber tracts in the white matter of the brain too small to be seen by conventional tools such as MRI and CT. In fact an individual with a perfectly normal MRI and CT could even be in a coma due to a brain injury. Treatment providers have been left to infer injury from clinical symptoms. However, even the most commonly used clinical tools, such as neuropsychological assessment, are generally seen as insensitive to the subtle, but sometimes life altering, effects of mTBIs. Read More

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

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

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-image-150wMedical 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