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The mysterious condition is finally getting some light shed on it origins and mechanisms, thanks to recent medical studies.

Researchers at The University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered new ways that inflammation spreads through the brain after an injury, possibly leading to explanations about how inflammation lingers in the brain and its role in causing neurodegenerative diseases like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The findings, published in the Journal of Inflammation, illustrate how microparticles derived from brain inflammatory cells increase greatly after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The microparticles “carry pro-inflammatory factors that can activate normal immune cells, making them potentially toxic to brain neurons”. Using mice, researchers found that those with a traumatic brain injury had a much higher level of microparticles in their blood. Due to cell types having distinct ‘fingerprints’, researchers were able to track and exactly pinpoint where these microparticles were originating. The findings suggest that the inflammation continues in the brain for years after a Traumatic Brain Injury occurs, with the microparticles “play[ing] a key role in this process.”

The research opens up new treatment possibilities as well. Researchers suggest the microparticles can now be used as ‘bio-markers’ to measure the severity of traumatic brain injuries. They also discovered how to neutralize these microparticles, suggesting new ways to combat TBI and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Researcher Dr. Alan Faden said, “The idea that brain inflammation can trigger more inflammation at a distance through the release of microparticles may offer novel treatment targets for a number of important brain diseases.”

Other treatment methods for Traumatic Brain Injury may become commonplace, due to discoveries made by researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

The findings, published in the Brain and Behavior journal last spring, suggest that a type of instructor-led brain training program can “stimulate structural changes in the brain and neural connections even years after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Using a group of 60 adults with TBI symptoms that lasted an average of 8 years, researchers randomly placed participants in either a knowledge- or strategy-based training group to learn ways of improving reasoning and focus.

After an eight week period, researchers found that those who received the strategy-based training “showed a greater change in cortical thickness and connectivity compared to individuals who received the knowledge-based training.” As previous research has illustrated how cortical thickness can be a potential marker of training-induced brain changes, these findings suggest that people “who showed the greatest changes in cortical thickness..showed the greatest performance increase in [the researcher’s] cognitive tasks.”

These findings have positive implications for the future of treatment of as well as further understanding for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other degenerative brain diseases.

In the last few years, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has gone transformed from a little-known disease into a pervasive threat facing the more physical aspects of society–particularly professional sports. And while there are very real consequences from the disease in the severe behavioral, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that may arise, including a final result of permanent disability or death, arguably the increasing fear of TBI results from both people’s lack of understanding of the disease’s specifics, as well as the mysterious and extreme, fast-acting symptoms that can transform a previously sane, aware, and rational person into something unrecognizable.

Only with dedicated research like the kind illustrated above, can life-threatening and, moreover, heartbreaking diseases like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) be fully understood and successfully treated.

Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer your questions. We share the results of our research and experience in personal injury litigation knowing that a “rising tide raises all ships.” We are safety lawyers committed to making a difference for our clients and to providing our friends and colleagues with practical articles on topics related to our law practice. We have been doing it on the internet since 1994.