Of the 1.7 million individuals who have a brain injury each year, approximately 75% are categorized as “mild”. What we’ve come to discover is that the effects of these so-called “mild” brain injuries can persist for years. A study from New York University Langone School of Medicine has revealed that some people can experience significant damage to portions of their brains and that these injuries and their effects are noted a year after. Dr. Yvonne Lui, the neuroradiology section chief and assistant professor of radiology at NYU commented in an interview regarding the study: “…of course, something is happening because some people get knocked out and some people have ongoing symptoms.”
The symptoms of concussion and mild brain injury can include: headaches, dizziness, memory problems, sleep problems, mood issues, depression and anxiety. In many individuals these symptoms usually clear over the course of time. In others the symptoms persist and significantly impact the person’s life, their relationships and job. Dr. Lui’s study using MRI followed 28 patients with mild Traumatic Brain Injury or mTBI, a control group of 22 individuals was examined and 12 of that group were followed for a year. In the mTBI group, the researchers could identify global differences in brain volume and structural damage to regions of the brain, including the anterior cingulate white matter and the precuneal area. Injury to the anterior cingulate is associated with depression at a rate greater than is found in the general population. The function of the precuneal area is associated with executive functions such as critical thinking, reasoning and planning. Dr. Lui’s study indicated that there was atrophy after one injury and persistent symptoms.
This study among recent others is helping us see that the effects of mild brain injury are far than mild. The symptoms can persist and even though the person appears functional they may continue to have problems with aspects of their thinking, emotions and behavior which last for years.
Click here to read a summary of the study.