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The effects of traumatic brain injury on your body and mind can be devastating. Even long after the initial injury, inflammation and other factors can cause new problems for head injury survivors. Now researchers are discovering that a traumatic brain injury could actually age your brain.
The victims of traumatic brain injury often work through years of treatments and therapy to get back to where they were before the auto accident or fall. Unfortunately, some are never able to fully recover, and their symptoms can actually get worse over time.
One reason for this is that inflammation in the brain can cause secondary injuries and further disability. Now researchers in London are suggesting another reason – that after a head injury your brain may actually appear older than it actually is.
Dr. James Cole, from Imperial College London, and his team looked at the brain scans of 99 people who had suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from falls, assaults, and car crashes. All of the subjects had suffered neurological problems after their injuries. They used a computer model of the head injury victims’ brains, and measured their white and gray matter, comparing them to similar brain scans of healthy people.
The study found that head injury sufferers’ brains had actually changed in structure to resemble those of older healthy people. On average, a brain injury patient’s brain looked about five years older than their actual age based on a computer model. According to study leader, Dr. James Cole:
“Traumatic brain injury is not a static event. It can set off secondary processes, possibly related to inflammation, that can cause more damage in the brain for years afterwards, and may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.”
Cole plans to perform a follow up study to see whether his computerized brain modeling program can predict neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s in so called “old brains.” If this study is successful, it could help medical providers dealing with head trauma victims anticipate future challenges and incorporate treatments to avoid or reduce the effects.
The long-lasting effects of traumatic brain injury need constant care and monitoring by medical experts. But that can be expensive. If your head injury is the result of an automobile accident, though, there are benefits available to cover your care and make sure you have access to the treatments you need.
The auto insurance companies fight these claims – denying treatments and arguing that they are not “reasonably necessary.” Don’t let your insurance company overrule your doctor’s medical advice. If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury, talk to David Christensen at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He is a brain injury expert. He and his team can help you get the insurance company to pay you what you need so you can focus on recovery. Contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.