Much of the news we read about brain injuries in Indianapolis concerns sports-related concussions and other types of head trauma that affect children, teens, and adults alike. While many studies have addressed the long-term effects of multiple concussions and the possibility of the degenerative brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), few studies have specifically addressed the connection between brain injuries and diseases commonly associated with older adults. Specifically, how do brain injuries in adulthood impact those same individuals as they age?
According to a recent study in its early stages at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, we need to be looking more closely at traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and the long-term effects they have upon elderly adults.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Vary Greatly from Person to Person, But There May Be Similarities in Long-Term Complications
How do TBIs impact older adults? And do TBIs, even mild ones, have long-term complications such as dementia? The short answer is that we do not have a clear-cut answer because more research needs to be done on this topic. That is the focus of the study at USC, which is supported by a five-year R01 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of more than $1.5 million. An R01 grant is the name for the original grants issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and they provide “support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH.”
The research grant will address the ways in which TBIs can lead to complications in older adults when they go untreated, as well as the ways that early brain injury identification in seniors can help to improve quality of life. The study certainly is not the first to explore the effects of head trauma in the elderly. To be sure, we frequently see information about seniors who sustain brain injuries after a serious fall. For instance, a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society emphasized that falls result in more than 80,000 visits to emergency departments each year for individuals aged 65 and older, and about 75 percent of those visits lead to hospitalization.
While we know that seniors can be at risk of suffering TBIs, we do not have a strong sense yet of how mild TBIs impact patients in the long run, and how brain injuries can result in severe consequences during old age (consequences that, potentially, could have been prevented).
Goals of the New Study
What is new about the USC study is that it aims to address issues of monitoring in patients with TBIs. One of the goals is to develop wireless sensors for remote monitoring, which would help to alert a physician to complications from a brain injury much earlier on, as well as to allow the physician to monitor a patient’s progress toward recovery.
In particular, some research suggests that TBIs “can contribute to neurodegeneration but affect individuals differently at different ages.” One of the primary aims of the study is to monitor such changes and to determine intervention methods to prevent further injury or disease.
As Andrei Irimia, one of the recipients of the research grant, underscored, this new work is essential because “aging with TBI is very poorly understood.”
Contact a Brain Injury Lawyer in Indianapolis
If someone you love recently suffered a brain injury caused by another party’s negligence, you should speak with an Indianapolis brain injury lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact Holland & Holland today for more information.