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The Relationship Between Delirium and Brain Injuries

Brain Injuries Can Lead to Delirium

Delirium is the term used to refer to an acute state of confusion. The majority of individuals who develop delirium are those who spend an excessive amount of time in the hospital. The monotony associated with a prolonged hospital stay is thought to contribute to the development of delirium. Now, a research paper shows that delirium might be related to severe injuries, as well.

The Design of the Research Study

A team of researchers looked at nearly 100 individuals who underwent surgical procedures. The team took blood samples from these individuals both before and after surgery, to look for possible links to the development of delirium. Most of the proteins the researchers examined were related to inflammation, which is known to be common following a brain injury. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to traumatic events.

The team also monitored the patients closely for the development of delirium. Some of the signs include changes in an emotional state and combative behavior. Often, those who develop delirium do not recognize the people who enter and exit the room. Because people in that mental state are often confused, they tend to isolate themselves. Their sleep and wake cycles are often thrown off, so they tend to stay up during the night and sleep during the day. Finally, individuals who suffer from delirium also develop hallucinations and delusions, seeing or hearing things that aren’t actually present.

The Results of the Research Study

The researchers found that about a third of the individuals who participated in the study developed the symptoms. The scientists discovered that those who developed delirium had increased levels of a protein called neurofilament light. The team also found that those who had high levels of this protein had more severe delirium.

When the team continued the study in detail, they found links between this protein and damage to neurons in the brain. The researchers believe changes in the amount or structure of neurofilament light may be a sign of severe brain damage. If neurofilament light is related to neuron damage, it might explain the changes in cognitive functioning that contribute to delirium. This is going to be the goal of future research studies.

Future Directions of Studies

The team isn’t certain if neurofilament light is responsible for the signs and symptoms of delirium; however, they said that future studies will explore this topic in more detail. The researchers would like to know if elevated levels of neurofilament light may cause someone to develop dementia in the future. The good news is that the condition is often temporary. Changes in levels of light, daily routine, and the environment can break someone’s delirious state. This can dramatically improve someone’s chances of making a meaningful recovery following a traumatic brain injury.

The research team also believes that measuring levels of neurofilament light in traumatic brain injury patients might help doctors come up with a plan to prevent the development of delirium. This potential test may also help patients prevent a cognitive decline.

Watch YouTube Video: Delirium – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pathology. The animated video below explains why some people can develop this sudden disturbance in a mental state that can last for days.

Merced Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced Brain Injury Lawyer. Delirium is a common complication following brain injuries that require surgical procedures. If a family member or friend has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of another person, call me at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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Attribution of Pictures: The photograph placed at the top of this article was located first on Pixabay.com. The picture has been shown at this site under the guidance of the Creative Commons License.

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