A single blow to the brain can kill. But even those that don’t can have long-lasting consequences, even when the full extent isn’t readily apparent in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic brain injury.
That’s according to a recent study by researchers with the New York University Langone School of Medicine. Doctors there concluded that a single concussion – which is the most common form of brain injury in the U.S. – can have long-lasting impacts to the brain, ultimately resulting in sustained structural damage.
Concussions are considered a “mild” traumatic brain injury. However, just because a head injury is considered “mild” on the scale of how serious brain trauma can be doesn’t mean it’s not compensable, or that there won’t be long-term consequences. Our Birmingham brain injury lawyers know brain injuries are among the most common traumatic injury risks, caused by everything from car accidents to youth sports.
Each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that about 1.7 million suffer some form of traumatic brain injury. About two-thirds of those incidents involve a concussion. These injuries usually result at least initially in a loss of consciousness. But beyond that, there is also usually a loss of memory, an alteration of mental state and in some cases, ongoing focal neurological defects.Sometimes people report problems with headaches, memory, dizziness and even anxiety and depression years after the initial blow.
In the New York study, published in the journal Radiology, the researchers looked at 28 patients who had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. Of those, they followed 19 for a full year. The researchers mapped the patients’ brains after two months and again after 12 months. What they found was that there were “measurable global differences” in the area of the brain that had been affected by the injury. Researchers aren’t 100 percent sure what this means, but often problems with these specific areas have been associated with increase rates of depression.
A similar study, published recently in the journal Neurology, reports that mild traumatic brain injury patients reported more cognitive, somatic and emotional complaints two weeks post-injury than they did in the immediate aftermath.
Still, many people who suffer from these kinds of injuries tend to downplay them – especially in the athletic world. In a recent interview with Birmingham Dr. James Andrews, a 71-year-old orthopedic surgeon who is the team physician for Auburn, Alabama and the Redskins, Andrews indicates young athletes especially are pushed too hard. He noted that while some professional athletes have made remarkable recoveries, these are men at the top of their physical game, and they can afford world-class rehabilitative treatment.
But he pointed to 10th graders who are suffering permanent injuries because they return too quickly to the game.
“The expectations are skewed,” he said of young athletes who look to the professionals as examples of how hard to push themselves. “We have to protect them from coming back too fast.”
The man on the cutting edge with athletes: 10 questions with Dr. James Andrews, Jan. 14, 2014, By David Whitely, FOX Sports