New research has uncovered a way for doctors to use existing medical imaging to predict the likelihood and severity of a long term brain damage in patients who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study was conducted at the University of California in San Francisco. The researchers utilized an existing form of medical imaging called magnetoencephalography (MEG) imaging to map brain activity in TBI victims. The series of images they collected proved that long term brain damage can occur several years after someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Researchers also found that this was also the case in other types of brain injury as well including concussions.

Pratik Makherjee, one of the study’s authors says that MEG imaging is much better to use than a typical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) because it provides much more detailed information.

“If you scan someone a couple months after the trauma with an MRI, and you scan them again a couple of years after the trauma, it's going to look the same,” Mukherjee said. “With MEG, we can characterize simple systems in much more in fine grain detail. It produces the most detailed activity mapping of the brain.”

Using MEG imaging, areas of the brain that were not injured initially show signs of injury after many months.Doctors may be able to stop the damage and therefore reduce the long-term complications like permanent and total inability to function after a traumatic brain injury.

It is estimated that 1.7 million people will suffer from some type of brain injury this year and it will cost the health care system approximately 6 billion dollars. Many victims of brain injury will be athletes and military members.  Most of these will be minor injuries like concussions but some will be traumatic. However, about 40% of all TBI’s will be caused by a car or motorcycle accident which is the leading cause for TBI’s in the United States.

These new researching methods will provide brain injury victims better treatment and the ability to anticipate the long term effects of their injuries.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.