A recent British study, which appears in the April 2015 issue of Annals of Neurology, suggests that severe head injuries may promote early aging of the brain.
The study’s lead author, Dr. James Cole of Imperial College London, notes that a traumatic brain injury is not an isolated occurrence. It can continue to wreak havoc in the brain for years to come as inflammation and subsidiary processes that can facilitate the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In other words, TBI may contribute to premature brain aging in a very real and serious way.
The researchers examined the brain scans of 99 individuals who had sustained a traumatic brain injury as the result of falls, car accidents, or assaults. The test subjects had documented nagging neurological issues following their injuries. According to researchers, scans were taken of the subjects’ brains between one month and 46 years after the injuries occurred, and then compared to brain scans of uninjured people.
Additionally, the researchers approximated each test subjects’ brain age by constructing a computer model using calculations of the brain’s white matter and gray matter. Because it’s understood that head injuries heighten the risk of age-associated conditions such as dementia, the computer model was used to determine which brain injury patients are at risk of developing complications.
The study determined that the scans of those with head injuries indicated variations in brain structure similar to the brains of older people. In fact, using the computer model, the brains of those with head injuries looked as if they were approximately five years older than their real age.
Scientists would like to be able to use the model to screen healthy patients, then determine if the individuals with “old Brains” are more prone to develop neurodegenerative diseases. If successful, high-risk individuals could be recruited for medical trials, possibly prescribe treatments and subsequently delay or lessen the severity of disease symptoms.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, results when a blow, jolt, or penetrating object disrupts normal brain functions. Swelling, bleeding, and damage to nerve cells can result from these types of injuries. Every year, over two million people in the United States sustain a TBI. The leading causes of TBIs are car accidents, followed closely by falls, assaults, and sports injuries. Seventy-five percent of the reported TBIs each year are mild forms of traumatic brain injury such as concussions. Other forms of TBI include brain contusions, skull fractures, intracranial hematomas, and scalp or facial hematomas. Any of these injuries can result in mild or moderate to severe symptoms including coma or death.
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If you or someone you love has sustained a brain injury in an accident, we can help you obtain the money you will need to recover. Negligent drivers can—and should—be held responsible for their actions. Call Denver personal injury attorney Robert Paysinger today to discuss your case. Our law firm offers FREE case consultations and can be reached at 303.279.0221.
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