There are three types of traumatic brain injury advances being made right now: preventative, diagnostic, and treatment. Preventative advancements are currently lagging because they come mostly in the form of human change. New helmets and padding do their part to reduce the risk of brain injury, but our professional sports have become so cut throat that the only way to stem the tide of brain injury are rule changes and better regulation.
Treatment based and diagnostic leaps forward are happening rapidly as brain injury research is being better funded by the government and private companies. These areas are also progressing at a faster rate because they are aided by technology.
In the most recent State of the Union, President Obama indirectly referred to a brain mapping project lead by the National Institutes of Health. Mobi Health News says they will lead a decade-long project to create a comprehensive map of the human brain which will hopefully allow us to understand a variety of brain disorders better. The New York Times explained, “Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses.”
Diagnosis of traumatic brain injury specifically is being helped along by, of all things, smartphone and tablet apps. Testing for brain injury has always been almost entirely qualitative and subjective, as most show no physical signs of damage. They lead health practitioners and even sports coaches through a list of signs and symptoms of concussion, and can test come cognitive abilities. Some also allow for better monitoring and follow-up care, and even a specified workout routine suggested for helping athletes get back on their feet.
While he still have a lot of ground to cover, especially in the area of how violent we allow our sports to be, we are learning new information about brain injury every day, and improved funding means there will be no slow down of new findings any time soon.