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
The April, 2015 issue of The American Surgeonreports 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
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
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
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
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
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
Different symptom patterns of concussion depend on the precise nature of the damage to the brain
Medical 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.
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
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