Why a silent epidemic?
- Traumatic brain injuries are hard to see. A broken leg is easy to understand. Brain damage can be subtle, and it can appear at first like no injury has taken place at all.
- It’s hard to accurately diagnose a head injury. Just as it is hard for anyone to see and understand a brain injury, it is difficult for doctors to see, understand, and treat these injuries.
- It can be difficult to link head injuries with future disabilities. Some head injury symptoms may not appear for hours, days, or even weeks. At the same time, head injury victims and their families may not connect a head injury with consequential health issues.
The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute is trying to change some of these perceptions – and trying to expand our knowledge of what causes these injuries and how best to treat these injuries. Currently, the organization is using Functional MRIs (FMRIs) to track the healing process that the brain undergoes in the days and weeks after a minor head injury, such as a concussion. Participants, all of whom have suffered a concussion in the last ten days, are asked to complete simple tasks as researchers map their brain activity. Scientists hope that the study will help them understand how the brain heals itself and how doctors could harness that power.