Even minor injuries can lead to traumatic brain injury

When you think of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), you might think that they must only be caused by "traumatic" events. However, according to scientists at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, that is not always the case.

Through their experiments the scientists observed that even minor brain injuries can cause swelling that reduces blood flow and connections between neurons. If left untreated, the neurons-which transmit nerve impulses-eventually die.

After even a mild head injury, researchers watched as astrocytes-small cells that supply nutrients to neurons and help maintain blood flow and electrical activity-surround the area of the injury, causing it to swell up quickly. Eventually, the astrocytes swelled up about 25 percent, which smothered the neurons and severed their connections to other neurons.

In cases of severe head injury, the researchers found that this smothering effect of neurons can spread to other parts of the brain, making the patient less likely to recover from his or her injuries.

Further research is needed to discover whether the astrocytes swelling functions as a protective response to the head trauma, or works as a trigger to destroy neurons. Researchers believe that further understanding of why this happens will allow for more effective treatments for mild head trauma to be developed.

Traumatic brain injury causes and treatment

According to the Mayo Clinic, TBIs can be caused by penetrating injuries or closed head injuries. A closed head injury occurs when an object strikes the head, causing the brain to strike the inside of the skull. This can cause bleeding, torn tissues and bruising to the brain. Penetrating injuries, on the other hand, are caused when the brain itself is struck with a penetrating object such as a bullet or skull fragment. Both causes of TBI can cause long-term complications.

Each year, about 1.7 million Americans develop TBIs. They are often caused by car accidents, sports injuries, falls and violence. Although surgery and medications can help minimize the effects of TBI, there is currently no drug that can prevent or reverse the damage to the brain once the injury has occurred, possibly as a result of an inadequate understanding of how the brain damage develops after the injury.

Consult an attorney

Car accidents and slip and falls are two of the leading causes of TBI. Unfortunately, many such accidents are caused by someone else's negligence. If you or a loved one have suffered a head injury, because of another person's careless behavior, seek immediate medical attorney and contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can work to hold the responsible party accountable.