Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most troubling potential consequences of a motor vehicle accident. Not only are TBIs hard to detect, but their long-term complications can be confusing and difficult to treat.
Part of this is because the experience of having a TBI is so subjective. While most people recover from concussions with little to no significant long-term damage, about 30 percent of TBI victims will experience some form of permanent impairment. There’s not necessarily a lot of consistency in the experience, either – two people can suffer the same blows to the same part of the head and have totally different symptoms.
Because of this, accurate diagnostic and treatment tools have become something of a “holy grail” for neurologists and researchers. Now, one group of medical professionals has developed a new scan that they hope will shed some light on concussion-related brain damage.
The imaging technique, which was recently described in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, is called diffusion tensor imaging. Its goal is to highlight and analyze patterns of brain abnormality that emerge after a TBI. Diffusion imaging can detect damage to the brain’s white matter, giving doctors a better grasp on whether the brain’s structural integrity has been compromised.
When used over time, the scans can show the progression of the injury as well as the brain’s own efforts to correct the damage. Doctors can use these images to develop individually-tailored treatment plans for the unique needs of each brain injury victim.
Hopefully this new technology will help to speed recovery for TBI victims.