Thanks to a new advanced imaging system, patients, who recently suffered concussions, were accurately assessed for the likelihood of complete recovery by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health Systems. Also highlighted were the brains mechanisms for repairing or compensating for injuries in the study in the American Journal of Neuroradiology. Information that could lead to faster therapeutic development was provided in the study.
Every year, 2.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 75% of which are concussions. Objective biomarkers or tests for diagnosing concussions were non-existent. The only available method was symptom assessment. These symptoms which may include slurred speech, memory loss, confusion, seizures or loss of coordination, can last for seconds or not appear for days or even weeks following trauma.
The Latest Study
In the most recent study, Dr. Lipton performed DTI on 39 recently diagnosed TBI patients as well as 40 healthy controls. The goal was to determine whether brain abnormalities of individual concussion patients, identified on DTI, could distinguish who would fully recover and who would have symptoms lasting indefinitely. The DTI image of each patient was compared to the group of health controls to see where the brain abnormalities were. Three measures were used for assessment – cognitive function, post-concussive symptoms and health related quality of life measures. Follow up assessments were performed one year later, on 26 of the concussion patients.
The Test Results
In a comparison between the patients and the healthy controls, two types of white matter abnormalities were revealed. These were areas of abnormally low FA that were indicative of axon damage and cognitive impairment, compared with other areas with abnormally high FA that displayed a probability of a favorable response to the brain injury. This high FA could be from efficiently connecting axons or by the formation of fatty tissues around the nerves, allowing quicker nerve impulses. The patient’s outcomes were predicted by the amount of high FA in the brains following a concussion. White matter areas with higher abnormal amounts of FA were associated with more positive outcomes in follow-up testing.
In the opinion of Dr. Lipton, a need exists for further studies to give validity to this method of predicting concussion outcomes.
“While we were able to predict the outcomes for the patients in our study; more refined approaches – incorporating additional patient and injury characteristics, for example – may be needed when applying the test on widely differing individuals.” Dr. Lipton said.
The Study’s Possible Effect of Future TBI Lawsuits
A person who receives a traumatic brain injury may recover quickly and completely or they may suffer a lifetime of debilitating issues, mentally, psychologically and physically. To be able to accurately assess a concussion patient’s symptom probability and time for recovery could have a significant impact on future TBI cases. In a personal injury claim the amount of compensation that may be awarded in a case, is effected by the amount of lost income over a lifetime, long term medical costs as well as pain and suffering. The same test used to assess the probability for long term symptoms by the plaintiff’s lawyer, could also be used to prove the opposite by the defendant.
Any individual who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, due to the negligence of another, should seek the immediate help of an experienced brain injury attorney. Proving the extent of the injury and duration of the symptoms is critical to the outcome. No one other than a highly-qualified brain injury attorney should handle these challenging cases.
Vititoe Law Group has successfully claimed significant awards for victims of traumatic brain injuries. If you of a loved one were injured contact Vititoe Law Group and speak with an experienced brain injury attorney for a free evaluation of your case.