Study: treatment can improve cognitive function in TBI patients

A new study indicates that brain training after a TBI can help improve cognitive function.

Over the past few years, an increasing amount of attention has been focused on the occurrence of traumatic brain injuries due to car crashes, falls and accidents during sporting events. Previously, it was believed that there was a limited, one-year period during which the brain could recover from these sorts of injuries. One new study suggests, however, that treatment can improve cognitive function in traumatic brain injury patients months and even years after the initial injury.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas examined the effects of brain training on adolescent patients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries. Their research, which was published recently in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, shows that specific training regimens may be able to help young TBI patients to recover full cognitive function even years after they suffered their initial injury.

The study focused on injuries to adolescent patients because evidence suggests that the secondary injuries associated with traumatic brain injuries - including inflammation and associated neural cell death - affect developing brains much more severely than adult brains. In the weeks immediately after a TBI, the brain begins the healing process, but cognitive difficulties can persist and continue to cause problems years later.

As part of the study, researchers examined a group of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 years old, all of whom had suffered a traumatic brain injury within the previous six months. Each participant in the study had exhibited specific cognitive deficits, most notably the inability to recognize the "gist" of large amounts of dense information. Over the course of 30 days, study participants engaged in eight 45 minute brain training sessions and researchers measured their progress over time.

Researchers provided two different types of brain training: one group received training designed to improve the recollection of facts and one group received training designed to improve reasoning. They discovered that the group members who received reasoning-based training exhibited greater cognitive gains over time than the group members who received fact recollection training.

The authors of the study believe that their research could lead to new treatment regimens for traumatic brain injury patients of all ages. More than anything else, this sort of brain training could help patients return to living their lives as quickly as possible after injury.

If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fall, car crash or other accident, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.