Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a serious problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.7 million people in the United States suffer a TBI, usually in the form of a mild to moderate concussion. Experts estimate that the direct and indirect costs of TBIs – including both medical costs and lost productivity – in the United States run into the tens of billions of dollars each year.
Doctors have only begun to understand the effects that TBIs – even mild concussions – have on the brain. One condition, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that has been linked to dementia, memory loss and depression, appears to be triggered when a person suffers more than one TBI. A new study by researchers at UCLA may be an important step in diagnosing and treating this condition.
One significant hurdle in understanding CTE is that it can be confirmed only by examining the brain tissue of a person after death. Doctors have long believed that the ability to diagnose patients with CTE while they are alive could lead to important new treatments.
Researchers at UCLA recently used a brain imaging tool to examine several former National Football League (NFL) players, all of whom had suffered multiple concussions throughout the course of their careers. The scan allowed to doctors to detect tau in the players’ brains. Tau is an abnormal protein that chokes brain cells and is thought to be the cause of CTE. The findings of the study, published recently in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, are preliminary, but doctors believe they are promising.
Though the UCLA study focused on former NFL players, it provides important insight about the ways in which TBIs affect everyone, no matter how they are injured. The ability to identify tau in living tissue may be the first step to developing important new treatments for TBIs.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or other catastrophic injury due to the negligence of another person, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering you deserve. For more information about what a personal injury lawyer can do for you, contact an attorney today.