- CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne
- Published over 4 years ago
Head injuries have been associated with subsequent suicide among military personnel, but outcomes after a concussion in the community are uncertain. We assessed the long-term risk of suicide after concussions occurring on weekends or weekdays in the community.
In their Perspective, Donald A. Redelmeier and Sheharyar Raza discuss the significance of Seena Fazel and colleagues' longitudinal study of traumatic brain injury (TBI)-associated outcomes.
BACKGROUND: Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) secondary to blast exposure is the most common battlefield injury in Southwest Asia. There has been little prospective work in the combat setting to test the efficacy of new countermeasures. The goal of this study was to compare the efficacy of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) versus placebo on the symptoms associated with blast exposure mTBI in a combat setting. METHODS: This study was a randomized double blind, placebo-controlled study that was conducted on active duty service members at a forward deployed field hospital in Iraq. All symptomatic U.S. service members who were exposed to significant ordnance blast and who met the criteria for mTBI were offered participation in the study and 81 individuals agreed to participate. Individuals underwent a baseline evaluation and then were randomly assigned to receive either N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or placebo for seven days. Each subject was re-evaluated at 3 and 7 days. Outcome measures were the presence of the following sequelae of mTBI: dizziness, hearing loss, headache, memory loss, sleep disturbances, and neurocognitive dysfunction. The resolution of these symptoms seven days after the blast exposure was the main outcome measure in this study. Logistic regression on the outcome of ‘no day 7 symptoms’ indicated that NAC treatment was significantly better than placebo (OR = 3.6, p = 0.006). Secondary analysis revealed subjects receiving NAC within 24 hours of blast had an 86% chance of symptom resolution with no reported side effects versus 42% for those seen early who received placebo. CONCLUSION: This study, conducted in an active theatre of war, demonstrates that NAC, a safe pharmaceutical countermeasure, has beneficial effects on the severity and resolution of sequelae of blast induced mTBI. This is the first demonstration of an effective short term countermeasure for mTBI. Further work on long term outcomes and the potential use of NAC in civilian mTBI is warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00822263.
Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or concussion, is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. With mTBI comes symptoms that include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety and irritability, as well as impaired cognitive function. Symptom resolution is thought to occur within 3 months post-injury, with the exception of a small percentage of individuals who are said to experience persistent post-concussion syndrome. The number of individuals who experience persistent symptoms appears to be low despite clear evidence of longer-term pathophysiological changes resulting from mTBI. In light of the incongruency between these longer-term changes in brain pathology and the number of individuals with longer-term mTBI-related symptoms, particularly impaired cognitive function, we performed a scoping review of the literature that behaviourally assessed short- and long-term cognitive function in individuals with a single mTBI, with the goal of identifying the impact of a single concussion on cognitive function in the chronic stage post-injury. CINAHL, Embase, and Medline/Ovid were searched July 2015 for studies related to concussion and cognitive impairment. Data relating to the presence/absence of cognitive impairment were extracted from 45 studies meeting our inclusion criteria. Results indicate that, in contrast to the prevailing view that most symptoms of concussion are resolved within 3 months post-injury, approximately half of individuals with a single mTBI demonstrate long-term cognitive impairment. Study limitations notwithstanding, these findings highlight the need to carefully examine the long-term implications of a single mTBI.
Over the past decade, there has been a considerable increase in research on, and media attention to, sports-related concussion. However, despite accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and management of sports-related concussion have remained a challenge. There are approximately 1.8 million traumatic brain injuries in the United States annually (Faul et al., 2010) and emergency department pediatric visits for suspected concussion have doubled in the past decade (Bakhos et al., 2010). However, health care providers and medical researchers have yet to offer an effective, reliable evidence-based treatment for concussive brain injury. The Zurich 2008 Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport codified the prescription for cognitive and physical rest immediately following a concussion based on clinical acumen and common sense (McCrory et al., 2009). Currently, rest is the considered the best immediate treatment for concussion. Other supportive and anecdotal treatments are often applied throughout the post-concussive recovery process to address persistent symptoms. The need for empirical research to translate current guidelines for rest into evidence-based treatment protocols is essential. A recent study evaluated the efficacy of comprehensive rest and concluded that such rest may be helpful whether applied soon after a concussion or weeks to months later (Moser et al., 2012). Here, we present a case illustrating the effectiveness of rest in a youth athlete, commenced after experiencing 13 months of post-concussion symptoms. There appears to be value in applying a specific period of cognitive and physical rest following concussion, whether immediately or later in the recovery phase.
Single and repeated sports-related mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also referred to as concussion, can result in chronic post-concussive syndrome (PCS), neuropsychological and cognitive deficits, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). However PCS is often difficult to diagnose using routine clinical, neuroimaging or laboratory evaluations, while CTE currently only can be definitively diagnosed postmortem. We sought to develop an animal model to simulate human repetitive concussive head injury for systematic study. In this study, mice received single or multiple head impacts by a stereotaxic impact device with a custom-made rubber tip-fitted impactor. Dynamic changes in MRI, neurobiochemical markers (Tau hyperphosphorylation and glia activation in brain tissues) and neurobehavioral functions such as anxiety, depression, motor function and cognitive function at various acute/subacute (1-7 day post-injury) and chronic (14-60 days post-injury) time points were examined. To explore the potential biomarkers of rCHI, serum levels of total Tau (T-Tau) and phosphorylated Tau (P-Tau) were also monitored at various time points. Our results show temporal dynamics of MRI consistent with structural perturbation in the acute phase and neurobiochemical changes (P-Tau and GFAP induction) in the subacute and chronic phase as well as development of chronic neurobehavioral changes, which resemble those observed in mTBI patients.
A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a complex pathophysiologic process that has a systemic effect on the body aside from solely an impairment in cognitive function. Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) has been found to induce abnormalities in organ systems throughout the body, and may contribute to cardiovascular dysregulation and increased mortality. Autonomic dysfunction, also known as dysautonomia, has been studied in moderate and severe TBI, and has emerged as a major contributing factor in the symptomatology in mTBI as well. Analysis of the ANS has been studied through changes in heart rate variability (HRV), pupillary dynamics, eye pressure, and arterial pulse wave in those with mild TBI. Graded exercise testing has been studied as both a method of diagnosis and as a means of recovery in those with mild TBI, especially in those with persistent symptoms. Given the studies showing persistence of autonomic dysfunction after symptomatic resolution of concussions, further research is needed to establish return to play protocols.
It is time to stop using the term concussion as it has no clear definition and no pathological meaning. This confusion is increasingly problematic as the management of ‘concussed’ individuals is a pressing concern. Historically, it has been used to describe patients briefly disabled following a head injury, with the assumption that this was due to a transient disorder of brain function without long-term sequelae. However, the symptoms of concussion are highly variable in duration, and can persist for many years with no reliable early predictors of outcome. Using vague terminology for post-traumatic problems leads to misconceptions and biases in the diagnostic process, producing uninterpretable science, poor clinical guidelines and confused policy. We propose that the term concussion should be avoided. Instead neurologists and other healthcare professionals should classify the severity of traumatic brain injury and then attempt to precisely diagnose the underlying cause of post-traumatic symptoms.
Concussions carry devastating potential for cognitive, neurologic, and socio-emotional disease, but no objective test reliably identifies a concussion and its severity. A variety of neurological insults compromise sound processing, particularly in complex listening environments that place high demands on brain processing. The frequency-following response captures the high computational demands of sound processing with extreme granularity and reliably reveals individual differences. We hypothesize that concussions disrupt these auditory processes, and that the frequency-following response indicates concussion occurrence and severity. Specifically, we hypothesize that concussions disrupt the processing of the fundamental frequency, a key acoustic cue for identifying and tracking sounds and talkers, and, consequently, understanding speech in noise. Here we show that children who sustained a concussion exhibit a signature neural profile. They have worse representation of the fundamental frequency, and smaller and more sluggish neural responses. Neurophysiological responses to the fundamental frequency partially recover to control levels as concussion symptoms abate, suggesting a gain in biological processing following partial recovery. Neural processing of sound correctly identifies 90% of concussion cases and clears 95% of control cases, suggesting this approach has practical potential as a scalable biological marker for sports-related concussion and other types of mild traumatic brain injuries.
Awareness of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and persisting post-concussive syndrome (PCS) has increased substantially in the past few decades, with a corresponding increase in research on diagnosis, management, and treatment of patients with mTBI. The purpose of this article is to provide a narrative review of the current literature on behavioral assessment and management of patients presenting with mTBI/PCS, and to detail the potential role of neuropsychologists and rehabilitation psychologists in interdisciplinary care for this population during the acute, subacute, and chronic phases of recovery.