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Traumatic Brain And PTSD Disorders Seen In Scans

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, November 13, 2009 10:51 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: PTSD, Military, Veterans, Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI, Veterans Affairs, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Boston University

Traumatic brain disorders are being identified along with PTSD in a new scanning method.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Boston University Trauma Memory Lab/ brain images

The damage is largely invisible but the effects are not.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common brain change seen in about one in five veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some Vietnam Veterans also say they continue to live with PTSD, 40 years later.

Now powerful scans are allowing doctors to actually view brain changes in those with PTSD giving more credence to the previously dismissed disorder.

"There's something different in your brain," explains Dr. Jasmeet Pannu Hayes of Boston University, who is helping to lead that research at the Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD to Associated Press.

"Just putting a real physical marker there, saying that this is a real thing," encourages more people to seek care.

Besides PTSD, veterans are showing up with a subtle form of traumatic brain injury or TBI that likely comes from multiple explosions. One veteran likens it to his brain being "rattled" after he watched 50 to 60 explosions while part of an ordnance disposal unit.

Dr. Hayes studied that man by tracking how water flows through tiny nerve fibers in his brain, a noninvasive technique called “diffusion tensor imaging” which extends time to a standard MRI scan.

What she found was damage to the connective fibers in the region of the brain that affects memory and confusion as the fear "hot spot" in the brain becomes overactive.

At a military medical meeting last week Dr. Hayes concluded “Sgt. N’s brain is very different.”

These brain injuries as well as PTSD will be studied by the military’s new National Intrepid Center of Excellence, scheduled to open next year in Bethesda, Maryland to treat returning veterans and their brain conditions.

Symptoms of TBI are headaches.

Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks and nightmares. Both conditions are likely sharing the same region of the brain and result in memory and attention problems, anxiety, irritability, depression, reliving the trauma, and insomnia.

The good news is that Dr. Hayes finds the brain signals are not necessarily permanent and can change with treatment with PTSD therapy which cools down the fear processing of the brain.

PTSD is not unique to the military.

About a quarter of a million Americans develop the traumatic stress disorder at some time in their lives and can relive experiences of a car accident or rape. #


2 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Sydney
Friday, November 13, 2009 2:06 PM EST

I think this is a very good post to know, and to consider.

Posted by jagmedic
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 3:59 AM EST

Invisible illneses, but you look fine !
Silence and inactivity is failure and you must come out, Question Authority
http://www. pgev.blogspot.com/
http://www. post-deployment.blogspot.com/

Comments for this article are closed.

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