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New brain scan could lead to better treatment for patients with TBIs

With the recent lawsuit filed by former football players against the NFL and an increasing number of soldiers returning from deployment with these serious injuries, traumatic brain injuries have become a medical issue familiar to most Americans. Despite the increasing frequency of these types of injuries, however, properly diagnosing and consequently treating the damage caused is a challenge. Until recently, the scans used to show brain damage have not been as high tech as might be expected.

A new test, referred to as high-definition fiber tracking, is providing physicians with a more in-depth view of a person's brain, enabling them to pinpoint more accurately the areas that have sustained damage. The test takes images created by MRI scans and uses a computer program to provide a high-definition, color image of the nerve fibers in the brain.

In the past, brain scans were in black-and-white and did not provide as much detail, leaving many serious problems unseen. According to a neurosurgeon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, "It's like comparing your fuzzy screen black-and-white TV with a high-definition TV."

The images created with this new technique allow doctors to pinpoint specific nerve fibers that have been damaged. As a result, surgeons are able to determine whether they can repair the damage and therapies can be targeted to improve the damaged nerves. Where doctors previously could not see all of the damage caused by traumatic brain injuries, they can now use these scans to predict the symptoms the patient should expect to experience.

Traumatic brain injuries in the US

Traumatic brain injuries, also referred to as TBIs, can cause a wide range of symptoms, including loss of motor skills, mood changes and memory loss. Approximately 1.7 million people sustain a TBI every year - about 75 percent of which are concussions.

TBIs are caused by a variety of factors, the most common of which is falls, which cause slightly over 35 percent of all TBIs. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of TBIs, accounting for 17.3 percent of all such injuries. Not only do auto accidents result in a large number of TBIs, they also lead to the highest percentage - over 30 percent - of fatalities caused by traumatic brain injuries.

When someone sustains a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, it is critical that he or she receives the best possible medical care to ensure a full recovery. With the use of this new technique, it is more likely that the full extent of the injury will be revealed, allowing for a more comprehensive treatment plan. In the wake of such an injury, consulting with an experienced Augusta personal injury attorney will ensure the injured party receives just compensation.

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