Will new test method improve detection of traumatic brain injuries?

Many people in New Haven County, Connecticut, have had the experience of being hurt and not knowing initially whether the injury was severe. This can especially be a danger for people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, which is often a difficult injury to detect.

The effects of a TBI can be devastating, and in some cases late detection can lead to even more severe effects. Now, a new and more effective means of detecting TBI may be able to help future victims of the condition.

"Trojan Horse" detection

According to materials published on the University of Virginia Health website, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered a new approach to detecting TBI. Safety testing and clinical trials still lie ahead, but the new test offers advantages over traditional approaches to detection like MRI and CT scans. The materials report the following:

  • CT and MRI scans detect macroscopic damage in the brain, including blood pooling, tears or bruising
  • The damage associated with TBI often occurs at the cellular level, or even at the molecular level
  • MRI and CT results are often negative for people with concussions, which are mild cases of TBI
  • Doctors often have to rely on information from patients to make a TBI diagnosis
  • This can be problematic, as some people may be reluctant to admit their symptoms or be diagnosed with a TBI

The new approach discovered by the UV researchers can address many of these problems. The team chose a compound that will appear on positron emission topography (PET) scans and attached it to a type of white blood cell that the body sends to the site of a TBI. The PET scan can reflect where these cells go and where the TBI is, if one has occurred.

This treatment will not be able to help people who already suffered from a TBI. However, it may make a significant difference for many people in the future, if current statistics are a good predictor of TBI frequency.

TBI today

TBI is a more common problem than many people realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that upwards of 1.7 million TBIs occur each year. About three in four of those are mild cases like concussions; the new detection methods described above may be especially helpful in these cases.

Although less common, severe TBI is still cause for concern. The CDC reports that TBI contributes to 30.5 percent of injury-related fatalities. People who survive a TBI may experience a vast range of effects, including impaired cognitive ability and emotional changes. These people may face significant financial costs as well as personal costs.

Although more effective detection of TBI is important, preventing TBIs is also a worthwhile goal. According to the CDC, the leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle accidents, people hitting something, people being hit by something and assault. Some of these injuries are unavoidable, while some could have been prevented, either by the victim or another party.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a TBI that was caused by someone else, you should contact an attorney. A TBI can be life changing and costly in many ways, but an experienced attorney may be able to win compensation to help with your suffering.