Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Traumatic brain injuries change brain structure

New research indicates that traumatic brain injuries may actually change brain structure in a way that leads to impaired brain function. Pennsylvania residents who have had brain injuries, even mild ones, may be at risk for developing memory difficulties or other cognitive problems from these changes.

A new form of imaging, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, has shown structural brain changes in the form of white matter abnormalities in individuals who have suffered a brain trauma. Standard clinical imaging has not been able to detect these changes. Now DTIs show that even those with only mild traumatic brain injury demonstrate these differences. The transformations are particularly obvious in those that have had traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness.

The white matter abnormalities are significant because they are associated with verbal memory problems as well as other cognitive disorders. In fact, some disorders previously classified as mental illness may stem from brain trauma. There may be this type of link between trauma-induced brain changes and post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD has been classified as a mental health disorder. It is not unusual for those with PTSD to have traumatic brain injuries from explosive devices. In fact, this type of injury is common in troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now some researchers believe that PTSD may originate, at least in part, as a symptom of the traumatic brain injury.

No one knows the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries or their relationship to other mental health issues such as PTSD. Brain changes that lead to cognitive difficulties may develop into more serious problems such as Alzheimer's or other forms of mental decline. Any of these diagnoses can lead to a significant lifestyle change, permanent disability and unforeseen medical expenses. An attorney can help those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury with examining solutions to prepare for these potential outcomes.

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