New Study: Head injury and the effect on the brain
A new study in the journal Radiology, shows the effects of “traumatic brain injury” (TBI) using functional MRI, a scan which shows real time functioning of the brain. The study by a team of doctors in New York, shows that after a TBI, the communication (connectivity) between parts of the brain is affected and this is associated with commonly reported symptoms of cognitive dysfunction, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and post-concussion syndrome. The study shows that some brain connections decrease, while others increase, probably as a compensatory mechanism and to aid repair. Cognitive dysfunction commonly described as “brain fog” presents with problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment and be quite debilitating.
What is post-concussion syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome is a complicated disorder with a wide variety of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and noise sensitivity, personality change and emotional lability (changing mood) that can last for several weeks, with some reporting a much longer recovery. There is often a mismatch between symptoms and severity probably due to the very complex nature of the brain and the way it compensates and repairs (neuroplasticity).
What to do if you think you or a loved one has a head injury?
Not all bumps to the head require medical attention. However if you are concerned that the knock to the head was significant or there are symptoms after the injury seek medical advice.
The good news is that the brain has a remarkable ability to repair and develop new networks and this is known as neuroplasticity. Most people return to normal within a few days but for those who don’t there are an increasing number of treatments including physical therapy, counseling and Neurofeedback.
Avoidance of head injury is the key to prevention. Those most at risk of TBI are the young (brain still developing up until mid twenties) and the elderly. Women are more likely to present with a head injury but this may be because women are more likely to seek medical care generally.
- Wearing a seatbelt and using age appropriate child seats in cars.
- Wearing a well fitted helmet for high risk activities such as bicycling, skiing, snowboarding, playing football or hockey or baseball, horseback riding and riding a motorcycle.
- Reduce trip hazards in the home
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