Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Infection

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April 03, 2018
Edward Smith

Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Infection

Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Infection

I’m Ed Smith, a lawyer for traumatic brain injury in Rancho Cordova. Until recently, doctors were at a loss to explain the interaction between traumatic brain injury and intestinal problems. With new research, scientists are beginning to unravel this, offering new ways to lessen brain damage after a TBI.

Two-Way Street

The University of Maryland found what appears to be a bi-directional link between gut problems and brain trauma. For some time, doctors have known that once an individual suffers a traumatic injury to the brain, they often experience infection that is systemic. Scientists observed traumatic brain injured mice to understand how this happens. What they found was there were changes in the intestinal tract that increased the permeability of the colon. This increased permeability allows bacteria in the gut to leach out of the colon, migrating to other parts of the body.

Correlation With Infection Rate After TBI

Comorbid deaths or those that occur at the same time as another disease are common with TBI. Patients with TBI have a 40-percent greater risk of dying from GI problems. In addition, a patient with a TBI has a 12-times higher chance of suffering blood poisoning and dying from it. In the mouse model, after an induced TBI, the mice continued to have sustained gut permeability for approximately 30 days.

How TBI Affects the Colon

While scientists are still learning how the intestinal changes come about, they suspect it involves a type of cell seen in the brain and in the intestine. The cells are called glial cells. Both the brain glial cells and enteric (intestinal) glial cells are activated in the period after a person suffers a TBI. In the brain, the glial cells cause inflammation, resulting in damage to the brain tissue. At this time, scientists are unsure if the enteral activation of glial cells causes damage to the intestine.

Intestinal Problems Worsen TBI

Not only does the TBI affect the colon, but conditions in the intestinal tract have an effect on brain damage. Using a mouse model, scientists tested whether an infection with E. coli, a bacteria usually identified with an intestinal infection, had an effect on the extent of inflammation and damage in the brain. Using two sets of mice with TBI, one with an E. coli infection and one without, they found that those with the infection lost more brain tissue in an area of the brain associated with memory, the hippocampus. In addition, an infection led to more generalized loss of brain tissue.

Gut/Brain Interaction

With the knowledge acquired from this study, scientists may be able to take a proactive stance against infection caused by increased intestinal permeability, leading to heightened brain tissue damage. It is uncertain how long the interaction persists. However, monitoring the patient for intestinal issues after a traumatic brain injury allows doctors to take steps that might diminish increased brain inflammation and damage.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Tissue Reduction

Traumatic brain injury is responsible for the loss of brain tissue. The extent of the loss is linked to the amount of trauma, according to a study published in Neurology. The traumatic injury can cause localized injury such as a hematoma or generalized injury in the brain. A localized event can be repaired, however, the loss of brain cell connectivity is not correctable with direct intervention such as surgery.

Study of Tissue Loss

In one study of 69 individuals with TBI, where eight out of 10 patients suffered TBI in a vehicular accident, injury severity was correlated with brain tissue damage. In this group, it became clear that the more severe the injury, the greater the loss of tissue. Researchers used MRI studies of the brain to determine the tissue volume. Results showed that the volume of the brain decreased markedly with severe injury and less so with a more minor injury. Injury levels were determined by such parameters as the presence of coma or alterations in the person’s level of consciousness after impact. Brain tissue loss was higher in the white matter of the brain.

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Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer in Rancho Cordova

I’m Ed Smith, a lawyer for traumatic brain injury in Rancho Cordova. Brain injury can cause life-altering changes and the need for continued rehabilitation. When this happens due to a negligent act, you can recover financial damages. Reach out to me at (916) 921-6400 in Rancho Cordova and (800) 404-5400 nationwide. I will provide friendly and free advice. You can use my online contact page too, on

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