More than 2 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and over 50,000 brain injury-related fatalities occur each year in the United States. TBIs are one of the leading causes of death in individuals below the age of 35. One reason these deaths are so common is due to the difficulty in receiving a prompt and accurate diagnosis following an injury. Existing medical imaging techniques for diagnosing traumatic brain injuries are either CT or MRI. These tests are almost always administered inside hospitals and can provide information regarding substantial changes to a person’s brain structure. However, most mild traumatic brain injuries/concussions will not show up on CT or MRI, though they may show up on more advanced imaging techniques.
Fortunately, emerging techniques using both functional and diffusion MRI offers promising results in improving capabilities to detect traumatic brain injuries. These imaging techniques are extremely expensive and are thus often not utilized in connection with diagnosing and/or treating brain injuries.
Efforts to Solve This Difficulty With Medical Imaging
To address these issues, two researchers at the University of Virginia’s medical system have partnered with federal laboratories and obtained an $8 million grant from the Department of Defense to explore two new approaches to medical imaging designed to improve diagnosis capabilities.
The first effort involves a handheld ultrasound system that can measure the stiffness of tissue and expands on earlier research that analyzed injured tissue and its viscoelastic nature. Earlier studies by researchers at the University of Virginia showed substantial changes in tissue stiffness following a traumatic brain injury. Sometimes the tissue was impacted during a traumatic brain injury to such a degree, the study showed, that its change in stiffness was measurable.
The second effort to address the issue of the difficulty of diagnosing traumatic brain injuries involves the development of PET probes. These probes can assess various symptoms in a potential TBI victim, including inflammation, apoptosis, hypoxia, and neutrophil infiltration, to determine whether the victim’s brain has been altered in some way.
The Future of TBI Medical Research
Researchers hope that this advanced technology will one day be used by emergency workers as well as hospital staff. Researchers believe that the existence of this equipment on the sidelines of sporting events and other locations where mild traumatic brain injuries commonly occur would help keep more people safe. It would enable injured victims to better assess their need for immediate medical follow-up.
If the researchers can successfully create new diagnostic techniques, they could aid physicians in better diagnosing traumatic brain injuries. Improved diagnosis could then equip medical staff with better tools to optimize how the injuries are managed and improve the prognosis.
These research efforts are leading attempts to better diagnose traumatic brain injuries. With improved imaging and improvements in technology, traumatic brain injuries can be treated in a way that is both more efficient and more effective.
Speak With an Experienced Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has incurred a traumatic brain injury due to an accident that occurred in Missouri or Kansas, you should not hesitate to hold the responsible party accountable. At House Law LLC, we know that when it comes to concussions and traumatic brain injuries, the insurance industry has refused to provide fair compensation for these injuries. If you have been injured, the law says that you are entitled to fair compensation. Contact House Law LLC today to schedule a free case evaluation.
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