Illinois residents might find it interesting to learn that a new British study shows that serious head injuries could cause the brain to prematurely age. According to the authors of the study, the research could be used to create a screening test for neurodegenerative diseases in the future.
The researchers examined the brain scans of 99 individuals who suffered traumatic brain injuries from falls, assaults or traffic accidents and experienced persistent neurological problems afterward. Their brain scans, which were taken from one month to 46 years after their injuries, were put through a computer model that estimated the person's age by measuring their brain's gray matter and white matter.
The results showed that the brains of those who suffered traumatic brain injuries displayed structural changes that were normally found in older individuals. On average, the computer model estimated their ages to be approximately five years older than their true age.
The authors of the study said that head injuries are known to increase the chances of age-related conditions like Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. They said the computer model could be used as a screening tool to identify brain injury patients who are most at risk for developing neurological issues later in life. It could also possibly be used to screen seemingly healthy individuals. If the prediction model indicates their brain appears older than it is, an at-risk person could be enrolled in trials and treatments designed to delay the onset of disease.
Studies like this one underscore the challenges the victim of a brain trauma may face throughout his or her life. Those who have suffered a brain injury through the negligence of another party may wish to discuss their options with a lawyer. It may be possible to obtain a financial award that helps pay for immediate and long-term medical care.