The idea that a brain injury is a chronic disease has only been with us for approximately 10 years, since the seminal paper by Dr. Brent Masel. Prior to that, it was felt that only recovery occurred as time went by, without any chance of further decline. Many things have changed, however.
I recently gave a lecture at the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) speaking about what many perceive as a wide spread problem in our health care system involving TBI. The problem is that most radiologists in the United States have decided they do not want to be involved in TBI cases. Why do I say this and what does it mean?
In the last ten years it has become clear that high school, and even junior high school, sports such as football, soccer and lacrosse pose a danger of acute or chronic brain injuries. The autopsies of football players as young as 16 years-old have shown evidence of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).
It has become well known that our brains are not a fixed and static blob of material that we are born with. To the contrary, our brains are constantly changing, a notion called plasticity. For Example, the idea of “making a lawyer out of a student” after three years of a specific type of cognitive bombardment turns out to be truer than expected.
A study published this year opens up some profound doors in explaining the relationship between sleep and the brain. Until now, the actual physiological reason for sleep in humans was not known. People assumed it was to rest the body or to rest the mind.
In 1970, a Japanese robotics expert, Masahiro Mori, coined the term “The Uncanny Valley.” What he was describing was how humans interacted with and felt about robots. When robots looked very little like a real human being, the viewers emotional response was increasingly positive as they moved toward humans.
Researchers in Germany and Canada have produced a new map of the human brain which is considered to be fifty (50) times as detailed as the best previous effort. A human brain was sliced into 7400 sections and photographed at the microscopic level.
A new proposed rule by the Veterans Affairs Department issued in late 2012, changes the service connection of illnesses after service related TBI. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences entitled “Gulf War and Health,” Volume 7: Long-term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury Showed the Association Between TBI and Five Diagnosable Illnesses.
As if there were not enough ground shaking discoveries to go around in the field of brain research, a huge paradigm shift is underway not only in brain research, but in all of biology. The breakthrough is called epigenetics.
It is a very common complaint of victims of traumatic brain injury that since the injury they experience extreme bouts of fatigue. Symptoms of “fatigue” are often ignored or downplayed by doctors because it is considered a “vague” symptom.