The Journal of Neurology recently published a study from Newcastle University that found that even mild brain injury causes brain damage. The study tested 53 people, age 16 to 68, who suffered mild or moderate concussions and sought emergency room care. The 53 test subjects had MRIs within 6 days of their injury to scan for damage, accordingto ScienceDaily.com.
Compared to a control group, the test group showed nerve damage in the part of the brain that transmits information. Thinking and memory skills were so affected that test subjects scored 25% worse than people without brain injury. Even though the test group improved a year later, the members still exhibited signs of brain damage. The study concluded that “even mild traumatic brain injury may cause brain damage and thinking and memory problems”.
Most news about traumatic brain injury focuses on severe cases related to combat veterans, NFL players, and life-threatening car accidents. The truth is, 90% of brain injuries are mild to moderate and are caused by relatively minor incidents such as falling off a bike or being shaken in a low-speed car accident.
Brain damage – even minor brain damage – injures the “white matter” in the brain made up of nerve axons. These nerve axons act as a sort of information highways between brain cells. Damaged nerve axons are kind of like a road riddled with cracks and potholes. A brain damaged person’s cognitive, verbal, and memory skills become impaired because information within the brain can’t travel between cells as quickly as it needs to.
In light of the information from this study, it’s even more important for bicyclists and motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding. A helmet can protect your brain from injury to its information pathways in a minor accident and lower your risk of dementia and other diseases later in life.
For more information about the effects of brain injury and what to do if you suffered brain injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault, browse our firm’s library of traumatic brain injury articles.