Traumatic Brain Injury Blog

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Tagged with “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury”

November 10, 2016

Genetics a Likely Factor in Variability of Outcome Following Concussion

Most experts in traumatic brain injury (TBI) agree that there is a high degree of variability in outcomes after TBI, including concussions (usually characterized as “mild” TBIs – mTBI.) In other words, this injury is heterogenous; generalizations about recovery rates and outcomes are not particularly  productive.

In prior posts we have discussed research finding physical differences between patients who recover quickly and patients with persistent symptoms (such as differences in DTI imaging and differences in the presence of certain proteins.)  This research contradicts the position some clinicians previously held that persistent symptoms following mTBI were likely the result of a “somatoform” or mental health disorder. We have also discussed research identifying some of the individual factors that explain the variability of outcomes, such as prior TBIs and preexisting migraine. We have also discussed how the particular forces involved in a TBI may affect different structures of the brain producing different outcomes (such as changes in vision, changes in balance or changes in the function of the pituitary gland resulting in hormonal imbalances.)

It has always been suspected  that one of the factors explaining such variability in outcome may be genetic differences. Read More

May 18, 2016

New Guidance on Assessing Neuroendocrine Dysfunction following TBI

In our May, 2014 post,  we reported on research showing that traumatic brain injury, including mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI),  can damage and cause dysfunction in the pituitary gland resulting in deficiencies in key hormones released by the pituitary gland, such as Growth Hormone (GH). As we explained in that post, the anatomy of the pituitary gland makes it particularly susceptible to the sheering injuries seen in TBI.  These hormone deficiencies can produce many of the persistent symptoms seen following a TBI, such as fatigue, poor memory, depression, anxiety, emotional lability, exercise intolerance, lack of concentration and attention difficulties. (Although not always the case, these deficiencies can also produce physical symptoms, such as increased fat mass – especially in the abdominal area – and increased cholesterol.)  We also noted findings showing that pituitary dysfunction can worsen over the five year period following an injury – in other words, that this is an issue that deserves to be monitored on an ongoing basis. Read More

December 17, 2015

Penn Medicine Declares “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury an Oxymoron”

The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine issued a press release on November 23, 2015 declaring “mild brain injury an oxymoron” based on newly released research.  The research, performed in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, demonstrates how brain wiring can be damaged after a concussion–damage that in some cases never repairs.

The research, published online in November in Acta Neuropathologica, builds on prior studies showing that nerve fiber damage in the brain can be demonstrated by the presence of a brain protein called SNTF. Read More

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 29, 2015

New Radiology Study Finds Distinctive Post-Concussion Brain Injury Patterns in Patients with Depression and Anxiety

The Radiology Society of North America has published a new study that identifies particular white matter brain injury patterns in patients with persistent depression and anxiety following mild traumatic brain injury (concussion or mTBI.) 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

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

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 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