When a brain is damaged, doctors can sometimes use imaging technology to determine where the brain is damaged and how severe the damage is. However, with mild concussions, imaging technology has fallen short in determining long-term effects to the brain.
Recently, scientists have tried numerous imaging techniques to detect long-term effects of brain injuries. The most recent experiment was able to detect damage of white matter, which had been very difficult to detect in the past. They were also able to detect how water was diffused across the brain of veterans who had received blows to the head in combat versus healthy volunteers.
As new studies are conducted and scientists understand more about the brain new treatments can be developed. While this information might only help scientists understand whether a person will suffer from long-term effects, this knowledge might allow doctors to start treating a person sooner in hopes of preventing certain symptoms.
This research might also contribute to understanding Alzheimer's and other diseases that might affect the brain. Diseases caused by brain damage can result in ongoing cognitive issues and psychological effects.
Brain damage can result from many different accidents. Sometimes a person might be involved in a serious car accident, or they might even fall off a bike. Other times it might be something like a combat wound or even a loss of oxygen to the brain that causes damage. Whatever the cause, further understanding of how brains function can help doctors and scientists work together to establish effective treatments.
Source: The Republic, "Medical: New imaging detecting long-term brain injury effects," Lee Bowman, Dec. 4, 2013