In our fast-paced world of rear-end collisions, violence, and competitive sports, the word “concussion” has become almost commonplace.
Many of us realize that there could be some potential complications, but you just have to get checked out, rest for a while, and then you’re fine…right?
A new study published in the medical journal Neurology, indicates that concussions may have longer-lasting consequences than we originally thought.
This is big news for victims of car or workplace accidents. Our NC accident lawyers will tell you: try to make sure all future needs are calculated into any settlement you reach with an insurance company after an accident.
Quick Definition of Concussion
A concussion is a mild version of a “Traumatic Brain Injury” or “TBI.” They often cause short-term cognitive changes (such as memory loss) as well as other complications, including blurred vision and balance problems.
TBI’s are a serious problem in the United States. In fact, the Center for Disease Control CDC reports that brain injuries cause around a third of all deaths due to injury in the United States.
According to the Mayo Clinic falls, car accidents and violence are top causes of trauma to the head.
Study Results: Brain Changes Linger After Head Injury
The study Neurology published was conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico, who observed 26 patients who had suffered concussions and compared their results to 26 healthy control subjects.
Each of the subjects was given a diffusion MRI, a specific type of medical test that observes the movement of water and other molecules through the brain. The purpose is to track the underlying architecture and structure of the brain. The test can be more sensitive and reveal more potential abnormalities or changes to brain function than a traditional MRI or a CT-scan.
The concussion patients were given the test within 14 days of their injury and were then retested four months after.
In the case of the concussion victims, the diffusion MRI revealed something troubling. Even four months after the time when the concussion occurred, the brain injury victims still had 10% more fractional anisotropy (FA) within the gray matter in their prefrontal cortexes as compared with study participants who had not experienced a recent trauma to the head.
This data suggests that the brain may be slow to return to normal after a concussion.
However, it is not clear exactly why this delay occurs:
One possibility is that the increased FA is simply a result of the healing functions of the brain – like scar tissue.
Other possibilities, however, are less positive. Some explanations say that the increased FA might have occurred due to the aftereffects of fluid accumulation caused by the concussion; or that the increased FA occurred because the concussion caused a change in the shape of the brain’s structural cells.
The results also indicated that concussion victims may not recover as quickly as expected.
Those who had recent concussions performed slightly worse than healthy patients on tests of cognitive function and memory.
More research is clearly needed to determine the true long-term impact of trauma to the brain.
Victims of serious accidents involving head trauma need to be aware that they could experience long-term complications, and are at-risk for dementia and other health problems that can result from repeated trauma.
If you’ve been injured, make sure your insurance company is taking your future needs seriously. Have a professional review your case.