Neuromarkers of Poor Social Outcomes After a Brain Injury

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November 08, 2019
Edward Smith

Neuromarkers of Poor Social Outcomes After a Brain Injury

Recently, a research article was published discussing potential neuromarkers of brain functioning that may help predict someone’s social outcomes following a TBI. A number of serious complications can arise when someone has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Much attention is paid to permanent motor and sensory deficits that someone might develop. At the same time, it is just as important to think about someone’s social outcomes following a TBI.

Social functioning is critical when maintaining personal and professional relationships following a severe head injury. Unfortunately, doctors have had trouble producing an accurate prognosis regarding someone’s level of social functioning following a traumatic brain injury. A team of researchers believes they have identified neuromarkers that can do that.

A Deficit in Social Functioning

There are several reasons why people who have suffered a TBI have trouble with their social skills as they recover. One of the main reasons is that people who have sustained a head injury often have trouble interpreting people’s faces. The brain is trained to recognize tiny shifts in someone’s facial structure, allowing individuals to read someone’s emotions. These non-spoken social cues are crucial when someone is trying to function effectively at home, at work, in school, and in the community.

In the past, studies in this area have shown that the brain’s ability to pick up on these social skills depends on its ability to coordinate activity between multiple brain regions. At the same time, there hasn’t been much research regarding what happens to this coordinated network after someone has suffered a brain injury. A recent research study sought to change this.

The Design of the Research Study

A team of researchers ran a series of tests on individuals broken up into two groups. The first group consisted of nearly two dozen individuals suffering a traumatic brain injury. Some of the common causes of brain injuries include auto accidents, slip and fall events, and motorcycle collisions. The second group consisted of a similar number of people who had not suffered a brain injury.

The research team conducted imaging studies on everyone in both groups. They were looking for neuromarkers that might indicate changes in the coordinated network that plays a role in social functioning. The researchers noticed a pattern among the individuals who had suffered a brain injury about this network.

The Results of the Research Study

The researchers found that everyone suffering from a TBI had deficits in two specific brain regions. It appeared that their brains did not function as much in the prefrontal and temporal lobes of the brain compared to the healthy controls. In addition, the researchers found that the degrees of activity in these lobes directly predicted the severity of social deficits in those who had suffered a TBI.

This study significantly helps researchers and doctors better understand why and how those who have suffered a head injury might have social issues during recovery. The activity level in these two lobes directly predicts someone’s level of social functioning as they heal. More research is needed to guide doctors on how to use this imaging in real-time in the clinical setting; however, it gives doctors another tool they can use to help patients and their family members.

West Sacramento Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a West Sacramento Brain Injury Lawyer. Social participation is an essential quality of life issue following a brain injury. These neuromarkers may help develop a prognosis. If someone you know has sustained a brain injury due to the negligence of another person or entity, you can call me by using (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.

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Attribution of Photograph: Pixabay.com. 

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