Behavioral Outcomes Differ between Rotational Acceleration and Blast Mechanisms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Doctors Reviewing Brain Cat Scans

Mild traumatic brain injury may be caused by different mechanisms such as direct impact, head rotational acceleration, blast exposure, and penetration by projectile objects. The cause of an mTBI is important because the cause often affects the severity and persistency of cognitive outcomes.

A recent animal study assessed the relationship between the cause of an mTBI (in this case, blast injury versus rotational injury) and the subsequent behavioral outcomes. When researchers induced either blast-force mTBI or rotational acceleration mTBI in rodents, they observed that rotationally-injured rats showed greater activity levels during a maze-solving task, while blast-injured rats showed decreased activity during the task, but at later points in time. Behavioral assessments also revealed that rats injured by blasts showed long-term anxiety and other cognitive impairments that were not found in rotationally-injured rats, even though the severity of injury was equal in both groups.

These findings indicate that both the severity and the cause of a TBI should be considered when assessing possible cognitive outcomes. The unique effects of blast injury on post-TBI behavioral outcomes may have important implications for the treatment and rehabilitation of war veterans who have experienced blast injuries.

Source: Stemper BD, Shah AS, Budde MD, et al. Behavioral outcomes differ between rotational acceleration and blast mechanisms of mild traumatic brain injury. Frontiers in Neuropsychology. (March 2016).

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