New study provides hope for brain injuries

New study provides hope for brain injuries

New Yorkers with a traumatic brain injury suffer from a chronic health condition with possible life-long consequences for physical and emotional health. These include cognitive and psychological problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, the Department of Defense funded a study of strategy-based cognitive training which showed improvements on cognitive areas that are important for day-to-day living. This training also improved brain blood flow to key areas of the brain which decreased symptoms of depression and stress.

The study, the first of its kind, was published in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation at the end of May. An interdisciplinary team of researchers studied 60 veterans and civilians, aged 19 to 65 years of age, who suffered a TBI and who were divided into two groups. Two-thirds of the participants sustained a TBI as long as 10 years ago.

The first group received strategy-based training focused on complex abstraction and innovation over 8 weeks. The second group had educational, information-based training on how the brain works.

The first group showed improved complex abstraction scores by more than 20 percent and memory scores by more than 30 percent. They also showed a 60 percent lowering of symptoms of depression and a 40 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms. The reduction of PTSD symptoms was attributed to the increase of regional blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobe, anterior cingulate and precuneus.

One of the researchers claimed that the benefits of strategy-based training were experienced months and years after the injury. This indicates that brain injuries should be treated like a chronic health condition instead of a single short-term event.

Although there are promising improvements in the treatment of individuals with a brain injury, TBI victims and their families may face many years of treatment, rehabilitation and income loss. Where negligence or recklessness caused these injuries, prompt legal advice should be sought to help assure that the right to fair and just compensation is not lost.