Jump To Navigation

Study links mild head trauma to “potholes” in brain tissue

A recent study of military combat veterans revealed that even so-called "mild" traumatic brain injuries can cause abnormalities in the brain's white matter tissues. These trauma-related abnormalities, which some experts refer to as "potholes," have been linked to long-term cognitive problems. Among civilians and soldiers alike, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries affect an estimated 1.3 million people annually throughout New Jersey and the rest of the United States.

In the study conducted at the University of Iowa, researchers used an MRI-based brain scanning technique to examine the brains of soldiers who had sustained mild TBIs, comparing them to those who had not. They also studied the brains of other individuals who had sustained mild TBIs in civilian settings, such as traffic accidents or sports injuries.

The scans revealed that participants with a history of TBI had more "potholes" in their brain tissues than those with no history of brain injuries. Those who had sustained more severe TBIs exhibited more extensive brain tissue abnormalities. Increased potholes appear to correlate with more severe cognitive setbacks, such as difficulty planning or making decisions.

Perhaps surprisingly, the participants with non-combat-related TBIs showed even higher levels of white matter potholes than the military veterans, according to the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study's authors cautioned that further investigation is necessary to confirm the results of the study and the diagnostic methods used.

Study could help doctors diagnose brain injuries

If proven effective, the technique could aid doctors in diagnosing, monitoring and treating patients with traumatic brain injury. Despite the potential for serious long-term consequences for patients with brain injuries, diagnosing mild-to-moderate TBI is often difficult. This is because the damage typically occurs deep within the tissues of the brain and cannot be observed with traditional diagnostic tools. In recent years, however, as experts have learned more about the long-term setbacks that can result from TBI, efforts to improve the diagnostic methods for TBI have increased substantially.

A traumatic brain injury takes place when a sudden impact or jolting motion disrupts the normal functioning of the brain by causing it to knock against the inside of the skull. Symptoms of TBI vary widely from case to case, but often include headache, difficulty concentrating and memory problems, as well as personality changes like increased irritability or depression.

Until recently, it was widely believed that mild TBIs were generally not a matter of great concern and would typically heal on their own without serious long-term consequences. However, concerns raised by military veterans and professional athletes over the long-term effects of head trauma have fueled new research on the topic, with many studies suggesting that even relatively mild TBIs may have more serious consequences previously thought.

Seek legal help after TBI in New Jersey

New Jersey residents who experience symptoms of TBI after a car accident, sports injury or other physical trauma should seek medical attention as soon as possible to assess whether a concussion or other brain injury may have occurred. If someone else's negligence or wrongdoing contributed to the injury, it is also important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your right to seek compensation for any medical costs, lost income or other financial harm that may result from the injury.