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Even mild brain injurys can cause long-lasting damage

Researchers have discovered that even slight brain injurys can be extremely destructive and potentially deadly. Previously, many perceived that only severely traumatic brain injurys (TBI) could cause catastrophic changes in victims but a new study has determined otherwise.

Workers in Ohio can be exposed to many different situations in which a brain injury can be sustained: construction accidents, automobile wrecks, falls and assaults, to name a few. Many soldiers and athletes are at risk for such injuries on a regular basis - according to data, 1.7 million Americans sustain a brain injury each year. This figure includes soldiers and athletes, two categories that are very important to the field.

In the aforementioned study, researchers determined that a mild brain injury can lead to swelling in structures necessary to the survival of neurons. These structures are known as astrocytes: They are smaller cells that supply nutrients to neurons while maintaining blood flow and electrical activity. When a person sustains a brain injury, these cells can swell to 125 percent of their normal size, intruding on the nearby neurons. Blood flow can be cut off and if the swelling does not subside, other issues may arise.

Neurons have the ability to survive for hours like this, though they do not show much activity during the stress event. This knowledge may allow medical professionals to act accordingly in the hours after a TBI has occurred. But depolarization is another issue that the study examined. In depolarization, the neurons natural electrical balance is lost and the ability to communicate disappears with it. This renders the neuron useless - something that can cause serious issues to arise in an individual.

Those that have experienced a brain injury at work may want to consider a lawsuit, especially if their cognitive condition has changed since the incident. The costs associated with TBI are often higher than people can afford, making the lawsuit a potentially valuable decision in the long run.

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle, "Study: Even mild brain injury can be deadly," Urvaksh Karkaria, March 7, 2013

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