Veteranclaims’s Blog

November 9, 2009

New MRI Technique Allows for Easier Diagnosis of PTSD, TBI

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 8:55 pm

Full Article at: Scanning invisible damage of PTSD, brain blasts
By LAURAN NEERGAARD (AP

New MRI techniques “may allow far easier diagnosis for patients — civilian or military — who today struggle to get help for these largely invisible disorders. For now it brings a powerful message: Problems too often shrugged off as “just in your head” in fact do have physical signs, now that scientists are learning where and how to look for them.”

“There’s something different in your brain,” explains Dr. Jasmeet Pannu Hayes of Boston University, who is helping to lead that research at the Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD. “Just putting a real physical marker there, saying that this is a real thing,” encourages more people to seek care.

Up to one in five U.S. veterans from the long-running combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is thought to have symptoms of PTSD. An equal number are believed to have suffered traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs — most that don’t involve open wounds but hidden damage caused by explosion’s pressure wave.

Many of those TBIs are considered similar to a concussion, but because symptoms may not be apparent immediately, many soldiers are exposed multiple times, despite evidence from the sports world that damage can add up, especially if there’s little time between assaults.”

MRI technique allows for “tracking of how water flows through tiny, celery stalk-like nerve fibers in his brain — and found otherwise undetectable evidence that those fibers were damaged in a brain region that explained his memory problems and confusion.

It’s a noninvasive technique called “diffusion tensor imaging” that merely adds a little time to a standard MRI scan. Water molecules constantly move, bumping into each other and then bouncing away. Measuring the direction and speed of that diffusion in nerve fibers can tell if the fibers are intact or damaged. Those fibers are sort of a highway along which the brain’s cells communicate. The bigger the gaps, the more interrupted the brain’s work becomes.”

“There’s a remarkable overlap of symptoms between those brain injuries and PTSD, says Dr. James Kelly, a University of Colorado neurologist tapped to lead the military’s new National Intrepid Center of Excellence. It will open next year in Bethesda, Md., to treat both conditions.

Yes, headaches are a hallmark of TBI while the classic PTSD symptoms are flashbacks and nightmares. But both tend to cause memory and attention problems, anxiety, irritability, depression and insomnia. That means the two disorders share brain regions.”

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1 Comment »

  1. Hiya 🙂
    Was linked to your blog in a really roundabout way, and was actually not what I was looking for… but it made a very interesting read along the way!
    Hope everything’s good on your side of the pond!

    Comment by Tommy — November 10, 2009 @ 9:33 pm


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