By: Allan M. Siegel
A concussion is a type of
traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Concussions are particularly concerning injuries because they are often unpredictable
in nature and can have such a profound impact on the lives of victims.
The fact that concussions are difficult to diagnose has also created many
problems for doctors and patients. A new study being conducted by researchers
at the University of Virginia, however, is hoping to find ways to better
Why Current Methods for Diagnosing Concussions Fall Short
Current methods and tools for diagnosing concussions have been said to
fall short. CT andMRI scans, for instance, are not able to see most of the changes in the
brain after a concussion. These imaging tests may be able to identify
bruising and tears, but they are unable to identify changes in the brain
at a cellular and molecular level. Patients with a concussion will almost always have negative CT and MRI scans.
As a result, doctors are forced to rely on what patients have to say about
their symptoms. When an athlete fears that he or she may be removed from
their sport for accurately describing adverse sym
ptoms, they often minimize them or decline to speak truthfully about what
they are experiencing.
Identifying Traumatic Brain Injuries at the Microscopic Level
University of Virginia researchers
are exploring a new method to identify TBI. Using a tactic commonly used to
diagnose lung infections, researchers are finding that TBI can potentially
be diagnosed – more accurately than with current methods –
by using positron emission tomography (PET) scans to chart the body's
immune response to a brain injury. The study – which is being funded
by the U.S. Defense Health Program – addresses the fact that current
imaging tests are unable to view the brain at a microscopic level, where
molecular and cellular changes can potentially alert a physician to TBI.
In order to see these changes, researchers use compounds attached to white
blood cells to monitor the body's immune response to injury. When
this compound – which functions like a tracer – travels to
the injured area of the brain, it may be an indication that the body's
immune system is attempting to repair damages. Physicians will be able
to see the tracers and can potentially identify TBI on a PET scan.
The results of the study have been reassuring and will hopefully lead to
new, effective methods for diagnosing TBI. For more information about
traumatic brain injuries and concussions, or to discuss your brain injury
case, contact a Northern Virginia brain injury lawyer from Chaikin, Sherman,
Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.