While a host of studies have been done on moderate to severe traumatic brain damage, little research has been done on mild cases of brain damage. Traditional measures for scanning the brain and evaluating the brain for tissue damage did not allow physicians to easily see the signs of mild damage deep in the brain tissue. With the discovery of a new diagnostic testing device for traumatic brain injuries, however, medical professionals in New Mexico and across the country are now able to see mild brain injuries and understand how they progress over time.
Researchers used a form of magnetic resonance imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging, to look at the white matter of the brain. The images created from DTI show a contrast between healthy and damaged brain cells. When the brain tissue is healthy, it appears extremely structured and orderly on the image. Cellular damage in the brain appears brighter in the image, and pinpoints where the brain trauma lies.
Without having a scanning device available to find these damaged cells, people who have mild traumatic brain injury may not be aware that they have a problem in the first place. Symptoms of mild TBI include dizziness, headaches, muscle tingling, fatigue and trouble concentrating, which may be mistakenly attributed to other conditions. By diagnosing brain damage correctly, doctors can customize a treatment plan for their patients based upon where the brain is damage, as well as the extent of the damage. With the introduction of DTI, people may be better able to recover from their mild brain damage and reestablish lost cognitive functioning.