Monthly Archives: November 2010

Computer-Mediated Communication after Traumatic Brain Injury

email, internet, connection, computer-mediated communicationComputer-mediated communication is the use of computer networking systems to communicate with others. Today, this usually comes in the form of E-mail and social media messages. For those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, computer-mediated communication can aid in recovery by helping the injured cope with the isolation brought on by brain injury. It can also help them connect with other patients who have experienced the same injury.

Emotional Struggles for the Injured

Those who suffer with a traumatic brain injury often express a feeling that others do not take their ideas or feelings seriously. Relatives become impatient and frustrated with the slowed communication that comes from difficulty with forming and sharing ideas. Upon being discharged to the home, many patients feel disengaged and alone. The changes brought on by the injury makes it hard for patients to recognize the self they knew before. Patients may feel they are burdens to loved ones and react with anxiety, sensitivity to criticism and anger. Continue reading

Hypertonic Fluids Don’t Help Most Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury is the most common cause of death in those who have had blunt-force trauma to the head. Survivors generally undergo severe, long-term disabilities and may even suffer secondary injuries because of intracranial pressure and decreased blood flow.

A new study examining out-of-hospital treatment with hypertonic fluids (electrolytes) has found that giving electrolyte treatments after severe traumatic brain injuries does not improve the outcome of the patient’s health.

The study is one of many over the last few years that look at potential treatments to stop the progression of brain injury. Researchers hope to find a treatment that serves as a “neuroprotectant,” helping to protect brain cells from dying after an injury. To date, anti-oxidants and magnesium treatments have been disappointing.[1] Continue reading

New Focus for Traumatic Brain Injury Research with MRI Technology

A traumatic brain injury is sustained when a force acts on the brain, causing damage. The injury can be confined to a certain part of the brain or it can involve many areas. Long-term health problems can come from traumatic brain injury, including mental, emotional, and physical illness. Changes in behavior and post-traumatic stress disorder are also common.


Depending on the seriousness of the injury and the damage done to the brain, symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. These effects may include headache, dizziness, or fatigue. The patient may also have weakness, loss of coordination, and seizures. Some symptoms are apparent right away, while others may not develop until days, weeks, or even years after the injury has occurred.

Diagnostic Techniques

To learn how severe an injury is and what treatments are needed, imaging tests are done. Patients who have experienced mild and moderate injuries may receive X-rays on their skulls and necks to check for possible bone fractures or spine instability. Continue reading

Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy

Every year in the United States, over one million people suffer a traumatic brain injury.  The injured person can undergo serious long-term health problems including emotional, mental, and physical injuries.  Many of those with brain injuries will develop seizures. About 25 percent of closed head injuries and 50 percent of penetrating, or open head injuries, will result in epilepsy.[1]

Epileptic seizures can cause serious neurological symptoms, such as severe paralysis or mental impairment.  Behavioral changes and post-traumatic stress disorder are also common symptoms in those with head injuries and epilepsy.

The two types of traumatic brain injury are closed head injury and open head injury.  If someone experiences a closed head injury, the wound may not appear major. It can be caused by a blow, sharp jerk, or bump.  In an open head injury, there is severe penetrating trauma to the brain.  When the brain is injured, its electrical functions in brain waves and nerve pathways become damaged, causing seizures. Continue reading

BrainScope Technology May Help Players Know When it is Safe to Return to Play

Research has shown that high school players may suffer changes in brain function from undiagnosed mild traumatic brain injury.  Normal signs and symptoms of a head injury are not always apparent, so the player stays in the game, continuing to take more hits.  The impact damages the brain, nerves and surrounding tissues.

New Technology Developed

To combat the problem, a new helmet has been developed, equipped with six sensors called accelerometers.  Data is collected from the sensors and studied to observe how the athletes sustain impacts. Scientists hope to learn just what happens after a player experiences a concussion. As it stands, players and coaches are left to determine when the player may return to the field. Continue reading

Study Shows Tie between Seatbelt Use and Traumatic Brain Injury

In the U.S., car accidents cause more traumatic brain injuries than any other type of accident. To reduce brain and other injuries, the federal government began requiring seatbelts in all new cars in 1966.[1] Since then, the number of traumatic brain injuries and their severity has decreased significantly, but only for passengers who remember to use their seatbelts.

Bodies Become Bullets in Crashes

New Jersey State Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fisher explains that unbelted passengers become a “bullet” in a crash. When a crash happens, their bodies continue to move at the same speed the car was traveling before the crash. The only thing that stops the motion is the body’s collision with other objects in the car, whether they are front seats, steering wheels or windshields. [2]

Seatbelt use has increased steadily in recent years as states begin implementing primary seatbelt laws instead of secondary ones. Primary laws let police officers stop drivers for failing to wear a seatbelt. Secondary laws only allow police to issue seatbelt tickets after stopping a driver for another reason. Continue reading

Living Successfully with Traumatic Brain Injury

An individual who has experienced a traumatic brain injury will experience changes that will affect the outcome of not only his or her work life, but relationships as well. These changes may be behavioral, physical, and cognitive. Learning to adjust to these changes is the key to recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

Tips for the Patient

It may be difficult for some people to realize the activities that once came easily will now take practice and work. Because of this, an extremely independent patient may feel frustrated and defeated when they realize they need the help of others.

The best ways to manage the interruptions in focus and thinking that come with brain injury is to stay organized and prioritize. Patients should keep lists of activities they want to do and make lists of tasks already done. Staying on a daily schedule will provide consistency and predictability that is important when recovering from a brain injury. Continue reading

Deep Brain Stimulation for Traumatic Brain Injury

Deep brain stimulation is already being widely used as a treatment for those with depression and epilepsy. However, only a few smaller trials exist for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Other tests have shown benefits for Alzheimer’s patients, which are likely to help TBI victims as well.

Promising for Brain Injury

Doctors decided to try deep brain stimulation on a man with severe injury to the side of his head. Immediately after the injury, he experienced bleeding and brain swelling. He was first in a coma and then in a vegetative state for 12 weeks. He remained minimally conscious for six years after that.

Because he was barely conscious, his eyes remained closed most of the time. He was unable to swallow and could only eat through a tube in his stomach. On rare occasions, he could utter words and trigger a communication device by moving his thumb. Continue reading

Traumatic Brain Injury is Linked to Schizophrenia, but is it a Cause?

A new study regarding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and schizophrenia has researchers taking a second look at the link between TBI and schizophrenia. The study shows that those who suffer a brain injury may also be at a higher risk for schizophrenia. The problem is worse in patients with a genetic risk for the mental disorder.

The Study

Past research on the link between TBI and schizophrenia has not been able to prove that TBI causes mental disease. This is because those diagnosed with schizophrenia are treated in the mental health system. They rarely arrive in clinics that treat head injuries.

This study group was made of 600 patients with a genetic risk for schizophrenia. These patients had at least two relatives diagnosed with the disease. Some patients were already schizophrenic. Researchers found that those already diagnosed with schizophrenia were three times more likely to have prior head injuries than the other patients. Continue reading

Diagnosing Concussion May be Harder than Previously Thought

Diagnosing a concussion may be harder than previously thought. A recent study conducted by Purdue University has concluded that high school football players suffered changes in brain function that went undiagnosed and they continued to play even though they were unknowingly injured.

The problem with this condition is the normal signs and symptoms of a traumatic head injury are not apparent, and players who are experiencing this injury keep playing, thus subjecting themselves to more hits. Impacts to the head cause the brain to bounce back and forth, thus damaging the neurons and surrounding tissue. The injury includes the possibility of breaking nerve fibers or even impairing signaling junctions between the neurons in the brain.

The Study

Researchers studied 21 players at a high school, and fitted them with helmets equipped with six sensors called accelerometers. These sensors picked up and relayed data to equipment that was located on the sidelines. Data was compared before, during, and after the seasons, and videos were also taken to study how the athletes sustained the impacts. Continue reading

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