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Researchers urge reclassification of traumatic brain injury as chronic disease
Date:8/26/2010

views it as a one-time injury that heals the way a broken bone does," says Masel. "Only by reimbursing and managing brain injuries on par with other chronic diseases will patients get the long-term treatment and support they need and deserve."

The researchers add that re-classifying traumatic brain injury as a chronic disease may help to provide brain injury researchers with the additional funding required to investigate a potential cure.

Masel and DeWitt's review compiled extensive evidence that brain trauma initiates a disease process that severely affects cognitive function, physiological processes and quality of life. These effects can prevent patients from fully reentering society post-injury and may ultimately contribute to death months or years later. Specifically, traumatic brain injury is strongly associated with:

  • Neurological disorders that reduces life expectancy, including epilepsy for which traumatic brain injury is the leading cause in young adults and obstructive sleep apnea, which is associated with reduced cognition and severe cardiac arrhythmias during sleep.
  • Neurodegenerative disorders that lead to gradual declines in cognitive function after injury, including Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (also known as "punch drunk" and characterized by disturbed coordination, gait, slurred speech and tremors). However, research shows that those who receive more therapy in the early post-injury months, irrespective of severity of injury and level of neuropsychological impairment, were less likely to show decline over the long-term. Age is also a factor in cognitive outcome after brain injury, with older patients showing greater decline.
  • A host of neuroendocrine disorders, possibly caused by complex hormonal responses in the hypothalamic-pituitary system that ultimately lead to acute and/or chronic post-traumatic hypopituitarism the decreased secretion of hormones nor
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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