Study Shows Damage to the Blood-Brain Barrier in Head Injury

Home » Study Shows Damage to the Blood-Brain Barrier in Head Injury
January 21, 2020
Edward Smith

Blood-Brain Barrier Leaks After Traumatic Head Injury

A motor vehicle accident can result in some form of traumatic head injury from concussions to life-changing events. However, a new study suggests that damage to the protective layer surrounding the brain can happen even without suffering a concussion. The study was conducted using adult and adolescent athletes and published recently in the Journal of Neurotrauma. The study, by researchers at Ben-Gurion Hospital, Stanford University, and Dublin’s Trinity College, showed damage to the blood-brain barrier that occurred even with a mild TBI. The main job of the blood-brain barrier is to keep infectious agents and toxins out of the brain. Damage to this area could increase the risk of toxins and pathogens entering the brain. 

Details of the Study

Researchers studied groups that were of high risk for a traumatic head injury, including martial arts practitioners and athletes. The purpose of the study was to develop a better test for mild brain trauma and to see if the blood-brain barrier was altered. According to one of the lead authors, the study also looked at injuries that did not show up on traditional MRI and CT scans, unlike those with moderate to severe brain trauma. The study attempted to show that the blood-brain barrier was injured even with mild trauma and that it caused it to become more permeable. Nineteen athletes were examined before the playing season began and after it ended. Ten of the athletes showed evidence of a leaky blood-brain barrier. The research is expected to continue using a larger group in the near future.

How Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by a jolt, bump, or other action strong enough to interfere with the brain’s function. Some causes of TBIs can be due to the following:

  • Traffic accidents
  • Falls
  • Physical aggression
  • Sports injuries
  • Gunshot wounds

Dangers of a Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier

The blood-brain barrier’s job is to protect the brain from harmful substances that could enter it through the blood. This barrier is thin and composed of a single layer that allows nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to cross into the brain while keeping out things that could cause damage. When damage to this protected area of the brain occurs, it can lead to inflammation. Some of the substances that the blood-brain barrier keeps from entering this critical part of the body include:

  • Pesticides
  • Heavy metals
  • Damaging proteins
  • PCBs

It is uncertain whether the blood-brain barrier can restore itself without medical intervention. Many researchers doubt this possibility. Whether or not the damage is permanent, the fact remains that injury to the blood-brain barrier could outlast other effects of the accident. This places the injured person in a precarious position in the future.

Damage Caused by a Motor Vehicle Crash

Motor vehicle crashes cause around 20 percent of all fatalities from TBIs. The seriousness of the injury can depend on the force of the impact. Concussions usually happen when the head strikes the steering wheel, doors, dashboard, or the back of a seat. They can also occur when the head and neck are violently jerked back and forth, such as in a rear-end crash. Not all symptoms of TBI appear right away. Using the results of the study, a classic concussion, even a mild one, may not occur or be detected. However, damage to the blood-brain barrier may exist. This can affect the individual far into the future. This is why it is important for someone who was involved in a motor vehicle accident to seek medical attention right away. An attorney will be able to show that the person may also suffer from a leaky blood-brain barrier, using the results of the study, causing long-term damage. 

Crushed Roof Injuries

Motor vehicles are expected to have a roof and side supports strong enough to prevent the top from crushing if the vehicle rolls. However, not all of them do, and that can result in a serious brain or head injury. Although crushed roofs most commonly happen in smaller trucks, vans, and SUVs, they can occur with any vehicle. A lawyer can help by investigating to see if the vehicle meets federal standards and if other instances of roof crush occurred. Sometimes, the roof crush injury is not as severe, but damage to the blood-brain barrier may result along with a mild concussion. 

Diagnosing a Traumatic Head Injury

More severe TBIs can be diagnosed by using MRIs or a CT scan where the injury will be apparent. However, in concussions, they are diagnosed by a doctor by performing a neurological exam, checking the medical history, and testing the patient’s memory and ability to concentrate. When no symptoms of concussion are present, this may not eliminate damage to the blood-brain barrier. Studies like the one described above will add to a physician’s ability to diagnose his or her patients.

Seeking Advice From a Personal Injury Lawyer

An experienced lawyer who has worked in the area of TBIs can help obtain the compensation you deserve. First, the lawyer will send investigators to the scene of the accident to compile evidence to support your case. This includes talking to witnesses, checking the police report for mistakes, and looking for video footage from nearby traffic cameras and businesses. The lawyer will also talk to medical experts, who can provide testimony or evidence on how your injury occurred and its severity and prognosis for the future. Once the evidence has all been gathered, our lawyers can use it to construct a strong case for court or to negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company.

North Highlands Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a North Highlands brain injury lawyer. If you or your child suffered brain trauma, you have the right to be compensated. Call me for free and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. You can also reach me online.

I’ve also helped clients with other traumatic events such as car accidents, wrongful deaths, and pedestrian injuries.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

Learn more about my practice on the following pages:

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