Is there a period of increased vulnerability for repeat traumatic brain injury?

January 10, 2013
©2013 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Repeat traumatic brain injury affects a subgroup of the 3.5 million people who suffer head trauma each year. Even a mild repeat TBI that occurs when the brain is still recovering from an initial injury can result in poorer outcomes, especially in children and young adults. A metabolic marker that could serve as the basis for new mild TBI vulnerability guidelines is described in an article in Journal of Neurotrauma.

In an Editorial, "The Window of Risk in Repeated Head Injury," accompanying this article, John T. Povlishock, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of and Professor, VCU Neuroscience Center, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, states that recent studies of TBI in animal models have shown that while repeat injury can exacerbate structural, functional, metabolic, and behavioral responses, "these responses only occur when the injury is repeated within a specific time frame post-injury."

"Specifically, this window of risk is greatest when the interval between injuries is short, hours to days, while any risk for increased damage is obviated when the intervals between injuries are elongated over days to weeks," says Dr. Povlishock. It is not yet clear if these time periods of increased risk are age- or gender-specific or depend on the intensity of the initial injury.

A consistent finding following TBI in both humans and animal models is a decrease in by the brain. Mayumi Prins, Daya Alexander, Christopher Giza, and David Hovda, The UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, Los Angeles, CA, simulated single and repeat (after 1 or 5 days) mild TBI in rats and measured cerebral glucose metabolism. They tested the hypothesis that the rats' brains would be more vulnerable to the damaging effects of repeat TBI at 1 day post-injury, when was still decreased, than at 5 days, when it had returned to normal levels.

In the article, "Repeat Mild : Mechanisms of Cerebral Vulnerability," the authors propose that the duration of metabolic slowdown in the brain could serve as a valuable biomarker for how long a child might be at increased risk of repeat TBI.

Explore further: Risk factors predictive of psychiatric symptoms after traumatic brain injury

Related Stories

Prior brain injury linked to re-injury later in life

January 3, 2013

(HealthDay)—Older adults with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with loss of consciousness (LOC) have a 2.5- to almost four-fold higher risk of subsequent re-injury later in life, according to research published ...

Recommended for you

New insights on how cocaine changes the brain

November 25, 2015

The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published November 25 in Cell Reports. Through experiments conducted ...

Can physical exercise enhance long-term memory?

November 25, 2015

Exercise can enhance the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, a process called adult neurogenesis. These newborn brain cells play an important role in learning and memory. A new study has determined that mice ...

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...

No cable spaghetti in the brain

November 24, 2015

Our brain is a mysterious machine. Billions of nerve cells are connected such that they store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library. To this date, many details remain unclear, for instance ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.