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Federal Database Should Facilitate Better Understanding of Brain Injuries

Head injuries are scary. From football and baseball players dealing with concussions to returning soldiers battling PTSD, issues involving the effects of brain injury are a constant presence in today's culture.

We're starting to understand better, as a society, that anytime someone suffers traumatic brain injury, the consequences are potentially very serious.

In the short-term, the consequences may include symptoms like headaches and sensory problems such as blurred vision. In the longer term, a brain injury can raise the risk of someone developing post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other serious cognitive issues - most notably dementia.

Of course, it's not only athletes and soldiers who are affected by traumatic brain injury. TBI is frequently caused by motor vehicle accidents and falls. Car accidents, falls from scaffolding on construction sites, and other mishaps can result in a violent blow to the head. Or it could be a sudden jolt, as in car crashes that cause injuries that used to be described as "whiplash."

In either case, what's happening with a "closed head injury" is a collision between the brain and the inside of the scull. And federal agencies are realizing that they need to be a better job of collaborating to understand the effects of these injuries.

For that reason, the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health announced yesterday that they are teaming up to create an extensive federal database collecting information on brain injuries.

The goal of the $10 million dollar project is to enable researchers to access information on CT scans, MRIs and other tests. Facilitating access to that information should make it possible for scientists to gain a more comprehensive understanding of brain injuries. This knowledge, in turn, could let to insights to improve patient care.

Source: "NIH to assemble $10 million brain injury database," Dotmednews, 8-30-11

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