A new study on patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) may change how we address cases of post-traumatic stress (PTS) that occur after sustaining a TBI. Recently there has been greater attention given to the relationship between these invisible wounds of war and the commonalities they share in both risk factors and symptoms. Now, researchers believe they have discovered a biomarker which indicates whether or not a current TBI patient will develop PTS in the future.
A biomarker is a measurable substance within the human body that indicates the occurrence of something such as disease or infection. Examples of other biomarkers include blood pressure and heart rate. Like with blood pressure, researches were able to look at a number of patients (400 to be exact), and monitor them. In a blood pressure study they’d be examining how blood pressure changed over a period of time. In this study, researchers were looking at patients who had all sustained a brain injury. They monitored recovery progress as well as whether or not patients had been given a diagnosis of PTS in the months following their brain injury. They also studied parts of the brain at different stages of recovery.
MRIs were conducted on all patients within two weeks of sustaining their injury. This created detailed images of the body’s organs and tissues, in this case the brain. By conducting the MRIs, it allowed researchers to watch for any changes in the brain, especially in areas they suspected to be connected to PTS. The focus areas were the regions of the brain associated with emotional regulation, attention, and arousal.
After studying all participants, researchers found exactly what they were looking for. They observed that when these areas of the brain were smaller in volume, people were more likely to develop PTS after sustaining a TBI. Being able to identify the source points of PTS has the potential to change how it is diagnosed and treated in TBI patients. It could lead to better monitoring and earlier diagnoses by having a way to identify those who are likely to develop PTS. It also may help prompt early interventions to address PTS before it becomes more severe in nature.
Posted on January 11 2021 in Blog