Single Concussion May Cause Lasting Brain Damage

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In the United States, about 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. About 75 percent of these are mild TBIs, such as a concussion. Between 10 and 20 percent of people with a mild TBI (mTBI) experience symptoms more than one year after the injury occurred.

A new study suggests that just one concussion might result in lasting brain damage. The researchers used an MRI machine to examine the brains of people with an mTBI who were still experiencing symptoms one year post-injury and compared them with the brains of a control group. Those in the mTBI group had experienced brain atrophy.

This result confirms what some researchers had previously hypothesized: that a mTBI can cause real, permanent damage to the brain. Changes in brain volume correlated with areas of the brain that are responsible for memory, attention, and anxiety.

Lui, Yvonne W., et al. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Longitudinal Regional Brain Volume Changes. Radiology. (March 2013).