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A brain injury test using MRI technology is in development

Louisiana residents may be aware that the nebulous nature of brain injuries can make it difficult for even skilled physicians to diagnose them accurately. Symptoms like fatigue, depression and lethargy are common among sufferers of a mild traumatic brain injury, but they are also presented by individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Doctors rely on their experience and expertise when assessing patients with these symptoms, but research being funded by the Pentagon could develop a noninvasive test using MRI machines that may provide a medical breakthrough.

It has been estimated that about 8 million people suffer from PTSD, and figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that about 1.3 million mild brain injuries are diagnosed each year in the United States. The researchers are using MRI machines to conduct a non-invasive procedure known as magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study brain molecules called metabolites, and a study of 75 individuals has revealed that PTSD sufferers may have higher levels of creatine, aspartate and N-acetyl than those with a mild brain injury.

The researchers are quick to point out that their findings are preliminary, and tests are scheduled to be run on several hundred additional subjects in the year ahead. Scientists and doctors hope that the research could also lead to a reliable method for detecting the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy using MRI technology. The condition can currently only be identified by studying tissue collected during an autopsy.

A great many of those who are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury each year received it in an auto accident. Those who suffer serious blows to the head often face an uncertain future even when their injuries are diagnosed promptly and accurately, and many brain injury sufferers are never able to recover completely. When these injuries are caused by the negligence of another party, personal injury attorneys who have filed lawsuits on behalf of injured victims may seek the testimony of neurologists and psychologists when demonstrating how severely TBIs can impact the lives of their clients.

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