AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Acute and Chronic Changes in Myelin Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Preliminary research using mcDESPOTmagnetic resonance imaging shows changes in the myelin content of white matter in the brain following mild traumatic brain injury. Myelin changes are apparent at the time of injury and 3 months afterward. For more details, see the article, “Prospective study of myelin water fraction changes after mild traumatic brain injury in collegiate contact sports, by Heather S. Spader, MD, and colleagues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, and about 75% of these TBIs are mild TBIs, which include concussions.

Despite the gentle modifier, “mild” TBIs can cause disabling symptoms (headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulties with concentration, and others), which in some cases do not resolve for weeks, months, or longer. In some contact-sport athletes, repeated mild TBIs have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious neurodegenerative disease that develops later in life and is responsible for severe personality and neurocognitive changes.

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