Off topic: New brain scan technique finds evidence of brain changes long after concussion/TBI/Brain injuries

Off our usual topics here but … Having experienced six traumatic brain injuries in life, this study is of great interest to me:

The authors point out that there is growing evidence of persistent changes in the brain that last well beyond clinical recovery and clearance to return to play. This study confirmed those findings showing clear brain changes in both structure and function that persisted six-months after injury. They also showed that these persistent brain changes related to concussion history, even in healthy athletes.

We were able to show evidence of prior concussion history through this method,” said Menon who is also a scientist at Robarts Research Institute and the director of the Western Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping. “This component correlates directly with the number of previous concussions that an athlete has had. This hasn’t been shown before.”

Source: MRI technique shows unique signatures of concussion in rugby players – Media Relations

Very interesting!

I have had six traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) ranging from about age 5 or 6 up through about age 50. One included a skull fracture (and unconsciousness) and 3 others involved knock out blows. Two did not knock me out but left me disoriented or with other affects such as “slow brain” and (oddly enough) arrhythmia for a couple of weeks.

In the past, these were called “head injuries” not “brain injuries” and were mostly ignored by doctors. Associated broken bones got attention! This is why TBI has been called an “invisible injury”.[1]

Incredibly, I did not know what a “TBI” was until 2018! I had, at various times, and in some cases still, experienced a variety of common TBI symptoms including “word finding” (knew what word I wanted to say but was physically incapable of saying the word), “stabbing” headaches, “throbbing” headaches, tinnitus, visual migraines, “slow brain”, emotional lability (since my third TBI, I found myself breaking into tears at emotional movie scenes or news stories), irritability, anxiety, “negatavistic thinking” including rumination and perseveration, sensitivity to low frequency sounds and noise and very short term memory issues (but not long term). For example, I tend to misplace tools I am working with and then spend 10 minutes looking for them, misplace my reading glasses, leave a stove burner on, etc. I developed coping strategies to avoid this now and it no longer happens as often as it once did!

I had no idea my brain was not behaving as it should. I learned just this year that this was not normal brain functioning and these were common after TBI (and sometimes long term after TBI). Merely learning this has left me with a wonderful feeling – finally – a coherent explanation and treatment options for a few things that linger on from long ago TBIs.

I learned that some people had very mild head injuries – but very debilitating brain injuries. There are some who have severe head injuries – but have made fantastic recoveries. There are also those who have had injuries and have had very difficult recoveries. Personally, I feel incredibly grateful that I came through a staggering six TBIs quite well and without diagnosis or appropriate treatment – not everyone has been so fortunate.

The above study has found a method for doctors to finally see evidence of physical changes, which they were previously unable to see. Lacking physical evidence, many patients with brain issues were ignored. More recently neuropsychologists have been brought in to evaluate cognitive functions and diagnose brain disorders that show no physical evidence.

Help for TBI patients is available.

Notes

[1] When I was 11 1/2 and recovering from a skull fracture, I remember I felt odd being so affected but nothing to show for it. Back in those days, kids with broken arms and legs got sympathy – but most didn’t know I too had a significant bone fracture and brain injury. TBI is mostly invisible. Yet my skull was fractured from my left temple to behind my left ear due to my bicycle striking a small pot hole, turning the front wheel into the curb, and throwing me over the handle bars, landing on the back of my head (per witnesses and evidence – obviously I have no memory of it). This was back in 1971 before bike helmets existed.

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