Historically there has been a lack of objective measurements in the detection of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). For example, standard MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans) show no distinction between patients reporting mTBI and controls (people without mTBI). Therefore, mTBI has traditionally been based on a patient's subjective reporting and experience. Unfortunately, many individuals with mTBI have not been able to convince certain medical providers that they have mTBI.
We are not doctors here, but we have noted that there are several imaging or evaluative techniques including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI (fMRI), MR spectroscopy, and magnetoencephalography (MEG). But is has been tragic that the older neuroimaging technology cannot pick up brain damage associated with mTBI.
Apparently, there are revolutionary, newer neuroimaging methods that will show mTBI lesions in the brain. For example, there is Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), a version of MRI whereby mTBI in the brain can be detected. Since most MRI scanners are equipped to run DTI scans we urge hospitals that currently have MRI scanners to incorporate this kind of scanning into their protocols for the detection and verification of mTBI.
Susceptibility Weighted Imagining (SWI), a state-of-the-art advanced scanning methodology, does show mTBI lesions in the brain. One hospital that already utilizes SWI is the Walter Reed Army Hospital, a hospital for soldiers and veterans that is located in Bethesda, Maryland. There is an effort now to place these SWI scanners in brain injury centers for the soldiers and veterans in the USA.
At long last people with subjective mTBI symptoms will be validated because of this new kind of neuroimaging technology. This advanced neuroimaging will confirm in an objective way that individuals have sustained mTBI. And this new technology will also benefit patients with more severe traumatic brain injuries as well.
These new scanning methodologies are game changers for the brain injury survivor community. We urge civilian hospitals, neurologists, and neurosurgeons to also purchase and/or champion this new technology. We cannot state strongly enough how important it is for all hospitals and additional medical neurological providers to incorporate these scanners and new evaluative techniques into their medical diagnostic and treatment programs.
Susan C. Hultberg, author
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2003). The Report to Congress on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Steps to Prevent a Serious Public Health Problem. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/mtbi/mtbireport.pdf