Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Beware Those Head Injuries

"When you do the comparison, you don't expect to find differences [in brain transmission time-frames between people having suffered concussion, and those who have not]. But there were differences."
"When we probed the transmission of information from one side to another, the group that had a history of concussion showed a delay in transmission. It was slower going from one side to the other."
"You don't see that with an MRI. You have to use very special techniques to see changes in the white matter. The issue is white matter is quite vulnerable to injury.When there's an impact on the body that twists the brain inside the skull, the white matter will show some perturbation. It seems that the changes in the white matter is there even years after the injury."
"We know from studies with professional football players that they have five times the risk of developing cognitive impairments. We're just starting to see the tip of the iceberg on this. But there's still a culture of silence. Young people, they don't want to talk about this. They just want to play the sport."
"Look at hockey. Fighting is absolutely terrible. Look at players who have concussions because of something that shouldn't even be happening during a game. I know it's part of the culture of hockey in Canada, but for me as a neuroscientist, it's terrible to see that."
Professor Francois Tremblay, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Ottawa

"In some things in our lives, we are the decision-makers and we know sometimes we get things wrong, but we can't get the big ones wrong."
"The ones where, 25 or 50 years from now, people will look back at us and say, 'How could they have been so stupid?"
Ken Dryden, legendary Canadian hockey star
Facts about Concussion and Brain Injury: Where To Get Help

Who doesn't know that references to 'grey matter' denote the thinking brain? But it is the function of the white matter that the grey matter depends upon to alert it to electrical stimuli that Professor Tremblay has discovered is vulnerable to injury from head concussions. And this, long after the concussion has occurred, when it has been assumed that the healing process has been completed and all is well, after all ....

Professor Tremblay and Travis Davidson, his graduate student, recently published a study in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology. They had measured the manner in which information is transmitted from the brain to the limbs and as well between the left and right hemispheres of the brain in test subjects. This led them to the finding that information in subjects who had undergone concussions, moved at a slower rate than how it did in a control group with no history of brain injury.

The brain is comprised of two information-transmission elements, and they are present in equal measure; grey matter and white matter. The role of grey matter which represents nerve cells tasked with the brain's "thinking" capabilities is clear enough, but there is a neural linkage representing white matter, which transmit information between areas of grey matter to fully account for the entire working brain stimulative and actionability process.

The investigative team of the two neuroscientists made use of a non-invasive technique which electrically stimulated one part of the brain, and then measured the rate and the speed of stimulation that travelled through the white matter to the grey matter. Which led them to the discovery that although some subjects in the research had suffered concussion when they were as young as six years old, the effect of the concussion was still present.

Visual memory was tested by the research team by confronting the study participants with symbols appearing on a screen which they were asked to recall. The group with concussions failed to perform as well as the control group, and significantly so, although their reactions remained within normal levels. Professor Tremblay stresses that what effects the damaged white matter will display as the subjects age, remains as yet unknown.

What the researchers did take away from their study, though, is that brain injuries are seriously damaging, with the proven potential of deleterious long-term effects.
A Single Neuron
The type of brain injury called a concussion has many symptoms. These symptoms are usually temporary, but may last for days, weeks, or even longer. Generally, if you feel that “something is not quite right,” or if you’re “feeling foggy,” you should talk with your doctor.
Here are some of the symptoms of a concussion:
  • Low-grade headaches that won’t go away
  • Having more trouble than usual:
    • Remembering things
    • Paying attention or concentrating
    • Organizing daily tasks
    • Making decisions and solving problems
  • Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking, or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Neck pain
  • Feeling tired all the time, lack of energy
  • Change in sleeping pattern:
    • Sleeping for much longer periods of time than before
    • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Loss of balance, feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Increased sensitivity to:
    • Sounds
    • Lights
    • Distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Change in sexual drive
  • Mood changes:
    • Feeling sad, anxious, or listless
    • Becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason
    • Lack of motivation

Young Children

Although children can have the same symptoms of brain injury as adults, it is harder for young children to let others know how they are feeling. Call your child’s doctor if your child seems to be getting worse or if you notice any of the following:
  • Listlessness, tiring easily
  • Irritability, crankiness
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Change in the way they play
  • Change in the way they perform or act at school
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking
 BrainLine - preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injury (TBI)

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