In recent past, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been considered a single event in which the effects are static (stay the same), even following rehabilitation. However, current research indicates that TBI may be a long-term condition with long-lasting cognitive deficits that may actually worsen over time. These consequences may include continued atrophy of grey and white matter, resulting in greater than normal loss of brain volume over long periods of time.
To better understand this, a recent study investigated the relationship between TBI and overall brain volume loss over time. Researchers found that participants with a history of TBI performed significantly lower on neurocognitive tasks involving memory and attention than the control non-TBI group, indicating significant cognitive impairment even several years post-TBI. Furthermore, measurement of brain volume showed that the TBI group had significantly reduced grey and white matter relative to the control group.
These findings support the recent hypothesis that moderate to severe TBI causes brain atrophy and general cognitive deficits that may last for several years post-injury. To more effectively address rehabilitation needs for TBI patients, longer periods of therapeutic assessment and intervention should be considered.
Source: Konstantinou N, Pettemeridou E, Seimenis I, et al. Assessing the relationship between neurocognitive performance and brain volume in chronic moderate-severe traumatic brain injury. Frontiers in Neurology. (March 2016).