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New Study Reveals What Happens During A Concussion

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There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about the dangers of concussions, but there is still a lot to be understood about this serious health condition. Researchers are continuing to explore new areas of concussion, and in fact, a new study was recently published that examined exactly what happens to neurons affected by a concussion. Here’s everything that you need to know:

Introduction to Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an object penetrates the skull, which is known as an open injury, or when the victim’s head is hit against a hard surface, which is known as a closed injury. Every year, more than 2.8 million people visit emergency rooms across the country after sustaining a TBI. The effects of their injuries will depend on the severity of the brain damage.

TBIs are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Moderate and severe TBIs may result in physical, cognitive, and emotional consequences that affect victims for the rest of their lives. Moderate and severe TBI victims may lose consciousness for several minutes or several hours, depending on the nature of the injury. As soon as they regain consciousness, victims may experience nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, numbness in their limbs, loss of coordination, and disorientation.

Although mild TBIs, which are also known as concussions, are the least serious, they should not be taken lightly. Some of the symptoms of a concussion are confusion, headaches, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, memory loss, and difficulty sleeping. Mild TBI victims may lose consciousness for a few minutes, but it’s possible that they will remain conscious.

Common Causes of Concussions

TBIs can occur in a number of ways, but the leading cause of these injuries is falls. In fact, falls accounted for nearly 47% of all TBIs according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the other common causes of concussions include traffic accidents, criminal acts of violence, and physical sports.

People over the age of 65 were most likely to sustain TBIs in falls, while those between the ages of 5 and 24 were more likely to suffer these injuries in a traffic accident. Sports-related concussions are a growing problem among young kids and teens, who can suffer these injuries while playing soccer, football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, or any other high-impact sport.

The Findings of A New Concussion Study

The Journal of Cell Biology recently published a new study that examined the swelling of axons during a concussion. Axons are nerve fibers that transmit messages from one neuron’s cell body to other neurons, so they play an important role in your nervous system. Although concussions have been widely studied, this is one area that researchers have failed to thoroughly examine.

The researchers from Ohio State University found that axons began to develop “small, beadlike swellings” during a concussion. The swelling that formed is similar to the type seen in patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers were able to recreate the swellings by putting pressure on the neurons and simulating a concussion. After pressure was applied, researchers found that the swellings appeared rather quickly, especially on young neurons.

The researchers were surprised to see that the swellings disappeared just as rapidly as they had formed. This finding indicates that the swelling does not necessarily lead to permanent and irreversible brain damage.

Upon further research, the team was able to identify exactly how these swellings occurred. The pressure applied on the neurons during a concussion activates a TRPV4 protein that allows calcium ions to make their way into the cells. Once the calcium ions were inside the cells, they activated the STOP protein, which interfered with the transfer of cellular materials on the axon. The materials that could no longer be transferred across the axon then began to accumulate and form the swellings.

Finally, the researchers noticed that there were different levels of the STOP and TRPV4 proteins in young and old neurons. There was less TRPV4 and more STOP protein in old neurons, making them more resilient to concussions.

What to Do After Sustaining A Concussion

Symptoms of a concussion may not be noticeable right away. Because of this, many people who sustain concussions don’t seek medical attention as quickly as they should. If you hit your head in an accident, it’s important to visit a doctor even if you have not noticed any serious symptoms. A doctor may be able to diagnose your condition using MRIs and CT scans even though you have not developed any symptoms yet.

Your health should always be your first priority, but seeking medical attention right away is even more important if you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. Why? Let’s say you suffer a concussion in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. In this case, you will be able to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, the insurance company will need proof that you actually sustained the injury and that it occurred during the accident. This proof can be provided with medical records, but if you wait too long to visit a doctor after an accident, this could affect your claim. The insurance company may argue that you did not sustain the concussion in the accident because if you did, you would have went to a doctor earlier instead of waiting.

If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but you will need the help of an experienced attorney.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".