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Patients respond differently to traumatic brain injury

Just as West Virginia residents differ in their personalities and in their fingerprints, they also differ in how they respond to trauma. This prevents physicians from being able to predict the outcomes of patients who suffer from conditions such as a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, brain damage can result in severe disabilities, such as cognitive impairment and epilepsy.

If doctors are able to predict patients’ outcomes with a greater level of accuracy, brain injury patients may enjoy the benefits of treatments that are more tailored to them. In recent research, scientists used a slug to explore how similar damage to the brain can affect individuals differently. The sea slug was used since these animals vary in how their neurons are connected.

The variability in the neurons appeared not to matter in normal conditions. However, when an important brain pathway happened to be severed, some animals exhibited little deficit in their behavior, while others weren't able to produce the particular behavior that was being studied. The scientists were actually able to artificially rewire neural circuits using connections generated by a computer; this made the slugs either invulnerable or susceptible to trauma or injury.

The results of the research emphasize the importance of mapping all human brain connections and mastering an understanding of them in various traumatic brain injury patients. Brain injury victims can find it difficult to resume normal lives following the events that led to their injuries. If these events happened to be car wrecks or other types of accidents for which other parties were at fault, the victims have the right to seek financial damages through personal injury claims. Financial restitution from a successful claim in West Virginia can help them to pay for the medical care they need because of their brain injury.

Source: medicalxpress.com, "Hidden variations in neuronal networks may explain traumatic brain injury outcomes", , July 15, 2014

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