New Studies Connect Traumatic Brain Injuries and Memory Loss

In recent months, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have been at the forefront of many news articles in connection with former contact sports players.  Now, new research has shown that certain traumatic brain injuries, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which previously could be diagnosed only postmortem, can be detected while the victim is still living.  Researchers are devoting significant energy to brain injuries, and an article in U.S. News & World Report explains that brain scans following head trauma may help to explain the connection between brain injuries and memory loss.

Head Trauma and Alzheimer’s-Like Memory Loss

According to the article, a brain imaging technology that is called positron emission tomography (PET) “shows that people who have had a traumatic brain injury develop so-called ‘plaques’ in their brain like those seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.”  These plaques are known as amyloid deposits, and David Menon, the study’s author, explained that they can “show up within hours of the blow to the head.”

Earlier studies have suggested that there are correlations between traumatic brain injuries and memory problems down the road, but researchers are not ready to say for certain that head injuries are the cause of memory issues later in life.  Menon explained that, for many patients, the “early amyloid deposition resolves,” but in some cases it can also recur and might “relate to later cognitive mental decline.”  In other words, medical researchers are still trying to determine whether head injuries yield only temporary or permanent problems when it comes to memory loss.  We do know, according to Menon, that “the greater the blow to the head, the more amyloid plaque accumulation and dementia risk.”

What are the Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries can occur in many different ways, such as car crashes, slip and fall accidents, and even as a result of sports activity.  Brain injuries can range from mild to severe.  In some cases, victims may be eligible to seek compensation for their injuries.  How do you know if you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury?  According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms differ depending on whether you’ve suffered a mild or severe traumatic brain injury.

For mild traumatic brain injuries, symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness and general sleeping problems

Severe traumatic brain injuries have symptoms that are more pronounced, including but not limited to:

  • Extreme confusion
  • Agitated behavior
  • Slurring of speech
  • Weakness in the fingers or toes
  • Convulsions and/or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils in the eye

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