The prevalence of serious permanent brain damage after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a highly controversial topic in the professional neurological community. About one percent of the current world population has experienced a TBI, which has numerous side effects and can contribute to the emergence of several different diseases in a victim. It is possible for a TBI patient to experience zero symptoms for years before developing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Several researchers investigated the effects of single impact TBIs, especially as they occur in military members and athletes such as football players and boxers. Their aim is to determine what steps need to be taken to assess the risk of disease and reduce long-term complications. The researchers suggest that in the case of boxers, doctors could look at the frequency of knockouts show in the box scores. In the case of athletes and soldiers, a life-long TBI diary could be used.
Because diagnosing repetitive mild TBI is often difficult, researchers are looking to biomarkers to help in diagnostic efforts. Increases in biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid can help doctors determine whether a person is likely to suffer long term effects from a mild TBI. Biomarkers along with protective equipment and education would each contribute to the reduction of TBIs and their harmful consequences.
DeKosky, S T, Blennow, K, Ikonomovic, M D, and Gandy, S. Acute and chronic traumatic encephalopathies: pathogenesis and biomarkers. Nature Reviews Neurology. (April 2013).