MRI may help pinpoint brain damage after concussion

Head injuries, even seemingly minor injuries, can cause long-term damage. Up until recently, doctors have had difficulty identifying the precise regions of the brain damaged by minor traumatic brain injuries. New research, however, indicates that the use of magnetic resonance imaging technology can help doctors understand which parts of the brain are affected by these types of injuries. This insight may help patients get faster, more effective care, which in turn could lead to shorter recovery times.

Experts estimate that just under two million Americans suffer traumatic brain injuries each year. For those who suffer mild concussions, one of the most common complaints is vestibulopathy. This condition causes not only dizziness but also problems with vision and balance. This is a significant problem because it can render patients prone to secondary injury.

Researchers, who published the findings from their study in the most recent issue of the journal Radiology, used diffusion tensor imaging, a specific MRI technique, to pinpoint the parts of the brain affected by vestibulopathy. They discovered that several parts of the brain - including areas controlling balance and areas controlling vision - were affected in cases of mild concussion. Previously, doctors believed that vestibulopathy primarily affected structures in patients' inner ears. MRI data indicates that the truth is much more complicated.

The good news is that this MRI technique may play an important role in helping doctors to diagnose and treat those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. For example, MRIs might be used in conjunction with cognitive testing to measure a patient's recovery progress. If imaging data indicates that a patient is not making progress, doctors could change their approach in order to get better results.

The reality is that the brain is a complex organ that responds to injury in ways that are sometimes difficult to predict. As researchers have gained a better understanding of traumatic brain injuries in recent years, it is becoming clearer that a cookie cutter, one size fits all treatment approach is not likely to work. The more that doctors are able to tailor treatment regimens to the needs of individual patients, the more successful these treatments will be. Studies such as this one offer important insight into how doctors can use technology to achieve better patient outcomes.

Suffering a traumatic brain injury, no matter the cause can be devastating. To learn more about your legal rights, schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney today.