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New MRI Technique Detects Subtle Brain Injuries

A new  MRI technique which can detect subtle brain injuries has been reported in the May issue of the Archives of Neurology.  Researchers at the Texas Southwestern Medical Center say they can detect diffuse axonal injuries which can occur when suddenly stops moving, such as during a motor vehicle crash, and axons are damaged or deformed. Axons are long, thin extensions that reach from one area to another.

"(DAI) may account for up to half of the traumatic brain injuries in accidents," according to study author Dr. Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, a professor of neurology, said in a prepared statement.

The difficulty that brain injury lawyers have with proving diffuse axonal injury is that in many cases, it  doesn't show up on CT scans or  MRI studies.

The researchers developed a mathematical analysis, called diffusion tensor tractography, to detect DAI on MRI scans. This type of analysis looks at how easily water moves around in areas surrounding brain cells. When axons are damaged, they swell and absorb the water around them, leaving less that can move between cells. As axons die, they release the water, which increases the amount of water surrounding cells.

Hopefully more research will look at this fascinating technique for objectively show the existence of brain damage.

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