A link between brain injuries and depression

The connection between brain injuries and depression is widely accepted, although not fully understood. Doctors have long known that some traumatic brain injuries—even concussions—can lead to severe depression and anxiety. But the connection between brain injuries and depression hasn’t been clearly defined. Now, researchers have found a clue: damaged neural signal carriers, deep inside the brain. Studying White Matter in Brain Injury Patients “White matter” —or axons—is the part of the brain cell that passes signals to another cell. White matter is not visible on a conventional MRI. That’s how many traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are diagnosed. A research team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center looked at brain scans of patients diagnosed with a mild TBI. Most patients had sustained

The X Factor in Brain Injury Recovery

Tessa Venell was in a serious car accident and hit her head on the car’s windshield. Most people with severe head injuries like hers do not survive. So far, Tessa’­s made an amazing recovery. A short video of Tessa’s story: Then and Now How did Tessa make such a complete and unexpected recovery? She credits her strong support network. Tessa describes the loneliness and isolation that TBI patients endure. That’s a well-documented problem for brain injury survivors. Many face persistent cognitive issues that take medical precedence over psychological issues. And many rehabilitation approaches don’t include psychological treatments as a regular part of treatment. There’s not much research on how the support and encouragement of family, friends, and medical providers assist

A silent epidemic: identifying signs of mild traumatic brain injury

A mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is the most common of brain injuries. Of the 2.5 million annual TBI-related deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits, 75%-90% are MTBI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is a staggering. The CDC, and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, have declared MTBI a major public health issue and a “silent epidemic”. Causes of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury The leading causes of MTBI, as seen in emergency rooms. Any fall, accident, or injury that may have affected the head should be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Symptoms and Signs of a MTBI MTBI symptoms generally fall into four major categories: physical; cognitive; emotional; and sleep

How the Glasgow Coma Scale assesses brain injuries

Used by emergency responders and medical professionals, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a quick test of a potential brain injury. The GCS is used for a fast assessment of a head or brain injury at the scene of a car accident, sporting event, or other injury site. Three factors—a victim’s ability to speak, to move, and to open his or her eyes—are assigned points based on a positive response. A severe TBI might have an initial score of between 3 and 8 on this scale. A more moderate TBI would fall between 9 and 12. A score of 13-15 would be considered a mild TBI. Coma Scale for Assessing Brain Injuries Verbal Response: 5 points = alert, normal speech

Understanding mild traumatic brain injuries

As a child of the 1960s and 1970s, I can attest to a general lack of knowledge in society regarding traumatic brain injuries. I vividly recall friends and fellow students being “knocked out” on the playground or playing sports. Adults simply used smelling salts to get the student to come around. The kid would go right back into the game or onto the playground, without another thought. The word “concussion” was used liberally, but never the words “traumatic brain injury”. Those words were reserved for people in a coma. We have come a long way in realizing the importance of identifying when a brain injury has occurred, and taking immediate action to minimize further brain damage. Identifying Mild Traumatic Brain

Rebuilding after a traumatic brain injury

David Grant is doing something very unusual: he’s actually talking about his traumatic brain injury. He survived a serious bicycle accident in 2010, but was left with a brain injury.   David explains the challenges of TBI in frank and honest way.     He describes his personal struggles to accept his disability, and to live a different life than he had planned. He writes of his routine, of “bad brain days,” of friends he lost, and family challenges. He talks about educating other people – even medical professionals – on TBI, and how there are times when he can’t bring himself to explain it yet again.  “There is still a very real social stigma attached to having a traumatic


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