Mild or Severe Concussion? The new research into why your injury never fully heals

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We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that even after a mild or severe concussion has “healed” there are still chronic inflammatory processes that will eventually damage brain tissue. The good news is that scientists have found an antibody drug they believe may help remediate the secondary injury.

According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Neurosurgery, around 69 million individuals worldwide suffer from a traumatic brain injury each year. Until recently, neuroscientists were unaware of the underlying molecular mechanisms that brought about secondary injuries, and they lack any therapies to stop these secondary injuries from occurring. Fortunately, a new study led by Jeanne Paz, a professor and researcher of neurological diseases at Gladstone Institutes, identified a C1q molecule found in certain brain areas at unusually high levels months after the initial trauma. Though the study has only been done on mice, it is a step in the right direction for finding a drug that prevents the inflammation of the secondary injury from setting in.

Unlike most brain trauma that affects the cerebral cortex, the secondary injuries resulting from mild to severe concussions propagate in the thalamus—a small area near the brain’s center used for processing sensory input. Scientists in the study examined human brain tissues from patients who died from head trauma and discovered C1q molecules remained for over a week after the initial injury. C1q molecules help clean up dead neurons after injuries occur, but instead of stopping once the cleaning is finished, the molecules continue to clean what it shouldn’t clean anymore.

To study this, the team administered antibody cocktails to brain-injured mice within 24 hours of the injury and continued with twice-weekly treatments for three weeks. The antibody cocktail brought down the C1q molecule levels, prevented chronic inflammation and epileptic spikes, stopped the loss of neurons in the mice thalamus, and restored their sleep. Mice who were not given the antibodies suffered much greater nerve death in the cerebral cortex.

Ultimately, the C1q molecule should not be blocked at the time of injury because it protects the brain and prevents cell death, yet blocking C1q subsequently after the initial injury may reduce inflammation. Though the therapeutic would have to be tested in human trials and approved by the FDA first, these findings are a positive step in uncovering a medication that can prevent further inflammation following mild or severe concussions.

If this therapy is ever permitted as effective in helping humans recover from traumatic brain injuries, it’s certain to contribute to the ongoing costs that victims of car accidents, falls, sports injuries and so on must pay to recover their health and quality of life. More often than not, restitution for brain injuries suffered in accidents require legal guidance and representation to ensure a just outcome that considers all aspects of the victim’s injury.

With 25 years of experience, Custodio & Dubey LLP’s skilled Los Angeles personal injury lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for individuals and families who were harmed in accidents that could have been prevented.