Researchers are studying improved methods for diagnosing traumatic brain injuries in an effort to remove the uncertainty that comes with head trauma cases. Brain injuries are the most difficult injuries to diagnose and treat because the damage is hard to see and similar injuries do not have similar results from case to case. A soldier can suffer significant damage from an explosion and make a full recovery, while a seemingly mild concussion suffered in a car accident can leave the victim with headaches, memory loss, and reduced function for the rest of his life. After a head injury is suffered, doctors and patients are basically left to wait and see if there will be a long term impact.
A traditional CT scan or MRI can identify things such as bleeding on the brain and swelling. These scans are insufficient, however, for determining the damage done to the brain’s connections. This damage is the reason why people lose function and continue to suffer ill effects long after the swelling and bleeding have stopped. Without the ability to pinpoint this damage, doctors are limited in their ability to predict the outcome of a head injury.
Several new options are currently being tested. A scan that could identify breaks in the brain fiber could revolutionize TBI testing and treatment. In addition to scanning technology, at least one group of researchers is attempting to create a blood test that would identify whether a head injury was severe enough to require further testing and treatment. The research is all geared toward improving the prospects of anyone who has suffered a head injury.
The increased awareness of TBI and its impact on so many Americans is valuable in and of itself. People are realizing how important it is to protect the brain from injury and, if an injury does occur, to take proper steps to maximize the chances of recovery. The new scans may someday provide the key to treating victims of TBI and helping millions of people reclaim some of what they have lost.