NEW YORK – Concussions often accompany several symptoms including dizziness and headaches. These injuries can also result in lasting mental damage, most often taking the form of depression, anxiety and irritability but doctors have struggled understanding why.
These symptoms are common in people who recently bumped their head as a result of a construction accident, car accident, or other personal injury.
New research may give clues as to why concussions and other brain injuries can lead to these long-lasting symptoms. According to a new study published in the journal Radiology, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center used an MRI technique that measures white matter, the brain’s signal-transmitting nerve fibers.
The study found unique white matter patterns in patients who had depression or anxiety, while those who did not display these long-term effects had different, stable patterns.
“The regions injured in concussion patients with depression were very similar to those of people with non-traumatic major depression disorder,” said lead author Lea M. Alhilali, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at UPMC. “This suggests there may be similar mechanisms to non-trauma and trauma-dependent depression that may help guide treatment.”
Treatment can often take years and be extremely costly for victims of an accident. New York personal injury attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said definitive treatment plans could ease the recovery process for some.
“Traumatic brain injuries, or concussions are some of the most common injuries stemming from accidents in New York,” personal injury attorney Steve Barnes said. “Unfortunately, concussions are still rather mysterious but ongoing research could someday make treatment options more effective and cost-efficient.”
Doctors estimate almost 3.8 million Americans suffer concussions every year and millions more could be dealing with the after-effects.
Researchers in the UPMC study noted that their findings also raise the possibility that anyone diagnosed with depression may actually have experienced a traumatic event at some point in their lives, which could have developed the depression.
“An auto accident, a boat accident, a slip and fall; any time you hit your head, it greatly increases the risk of a traumatic brain or spinal injury,” Barnes said. “As we’re discovering now, these effects don’t go always go away after a few days – in fact, the depression and anxiety may not set-in until weeks, months, or years after an accident.”
New York personal injury attorneys say it’s important to get evaluated by a physician for possible brain damage after an accident and if symptoms persist, it may be worth discussing options with an attorney focused on personal injury cases.
UPMC researchers plan to compare their findings in concussion patients with people suffering non-traumatic depressive disorders. Doctors hope the findings can further develop treatments and medicines that target depression.