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General Electric and the National Football League recently announced their plans to team up with leading neurologists to accelerate research on the treatment and diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries, or TBI. The $60 million initiative, announced March 11, 2013, will include $40 million for the development of imaging technologies used to diagnose brain injuries, as well as $20 million to improve the prevention, identification and management of TBI.

One concussion can alter brain structure
In recent years, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries have become a major concern in the United States, particularly among children and athletes. A growing body of research suggests that even relatively minor brain injuries may have far more serious consequences than previously thought.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 173,000 people age 18 and under are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year for sports-related brain injuries. The prevalence of childhood brain injuries is particularly troubling in light of a recent study by researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, which suggests that even a single concussion can cause structural changes in the brain. According to the study, which was published online in the medical journal Radiology, these changes may increase the risk of cognitive problems and depression.

Using three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging, the NYU researchers compared brain scans of healthy individuals with those of people who had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury one year prior. They discovered that the brains of the subjects with TBI displayed shrinkage in areas related to memory, mood regulation and executive function. Researchers also observed a reduction in overall brain volume among subjects who had experienced a concussion or other TBI.

Brain injury causes and symptoms
A traumatic brain injury is a disruption of normal brain functioning that occurs when a sudden impact causes the brain to strike against the inside of the skull. Symptoms of TBI often include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep changes
  • Mood changes

Because the internal signs of brain injury can be difficult or impossible to observe using traditional diagnostic methods, doctors often have difficulty detecting and treating brain injuries. However, as the indicated by the NYU study, even brain injuries that appear mild may have serious, lasting consequences. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention quickly if you or a loved one experiences symptoms of concussion or other traumatic brain injury.

People who have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing may also wish to seek legal advice to discuss the possibility of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help clients obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost income and other financial harm resulting from the injury.