While traumatic brain injury (TBI) impacts more than 1.7 million Americans per year, there is still little known about their healing process. In fact, doctors still do not have an accurate way to predict the extent of recovery a patient may experience, or how long it might take to heal fully. That could soon all change, thanks to a new study. What is more, the new information could significantly impact the outcome of personal injury claims.
The Mystery of TBI Recovery
Although some 52, 000 TBI victims experience death and another 275, 000 are hospitalized each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 80 percent of all victims are treated and then sent home to recover. What, exactly, does such a recovery entail? For most, it is nothing more than time and rest. How much time, no one can honestly say. Some start to feel better after just a matter of weeks. Others experience persistent symptoms that last for months or years. Still others never fully recover.
Studies suggest that that the difference between victims who recover quickly, and those who do not, could be found within the brain itself. Perhaps it is that some victims have lower stores of special proteins that repair neurons, or maybe some are more likely to experience an alteration in their genetic makeup after brain injury. Whatever the reason, science does not yet fully understand it. They are trying, however.
One recent study found that a fungus could help improve long-term outcomes for TBI victims. Others are trying stem cell treatments. There is a major caveat, though: without any information to determine which patients may be at risk for long-term symptoms, the treatments would either be given to all victims, or only to those who have experienced long-term symptoms. Neither option is optimal. That is where the latest study comes in.
New Study Measures White Matter in the Brain
Covered in a recent issue of the medical journal Neurology, the new study followed the clinical progress of 21 infants who had suffered from traumatic brain injury. The initial assessment came upon injury, the second occurred approximately two to five months after injury, and the final assessment was 18 months post-TBI. Results were then compared to 20 infants from a same-aged control group – infants who had not experienced a brain injury.
Using an electroencephalographic (EEG) scalp recordings, the study authors measured the time it took for neurological signs to cross from one side of the brain to the other. At the second assessment, researchers divided the infants into one of two groups: TBI slow (infants who had a slow communication from one side of the brain to the other) and TBI normal. By the third assessment, those that had been placed in the TBI slow group showed cognitive delays and widespread disorganization of structural white matter in the brain, but those that were in the normal group had recovered.
It is possible that this information could transfer to both adults and older children with traumatic brain injuries. Perhaps it may one day be possible to examine the speed of communication from one side of the brain to the other to determine if a victim is likely to experience a full recovery. Given more time, there may even be a way to time the responses to determine approximately how long a victim might experience symptoms
How This Information Could Help in TBI Cases
The inability to determine the extent and duration of healing for a TBI victim can complicate personal injury claims. Having a method to measure the possible extent and duration of healing could improve the outcomes of TBI cases, and may even help to ensure that non-recovering victims are more likely to receive the full and fair compensation to which they may be entitled. Unfortunately, for now, victims must rely on what is available.
At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., we understand the complex nature of traumatic brain injuries, and we want to help you get the most compensation possible. Skilled and aggressive, we will protect your rights and best interests. Learn more about how our Green Bay TBI injury lawyers can assist with your case. Call 920-739-7366 and schedule your consultation today.