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Soldiers who suffer mild brain injuries from blasts have long-term changes in their brains, a small new study suggests.
Diagnosing mild brain injuries caused by explosions can be challenging using standard CT or MRI scans, the researchers said. For their study, they turned to a special type of MRI called diffusion tensor imaging.
The technology was used to assess the brains of 10 American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries and a comparison group of 10 people without brain injuries. The average time since the veterans had suffered their brain injuries was a little more than four years.
One of the most common complications associated with traumatic brain injuries is the risk of dangerous blood clots that can form in the circulatory system elsewhere in the body.
For patients with traumatic injuries, the body forms blood clots which can break loose and travel to the lungs or other areas, causing dangerous complications.
New research shows that using blood-thinning drugs to treat patients with traumatic brain injuries reduces the risk of life-threatening blood clots without increasing the risk of bleeding inside the brain.
DR. LEWIS COMMENTS: This finding is extremely significant to the concept of using omega-3s following brain injury. Potent blood thinners used in this protocol (heparin and Lovenox) completely block the enzymes responsible for allowing the blood to clot, thus preventing deep vein thromboses that can result in worsening of the patient’s condition or death. Omega-3s potentiate the body’s natural anti-clotting abilities rather than blocking enzymatic processes AND add the ability to modulate neuroinflammation, decrease apoptosis (cell death), and start synaptogenesis (building of new neuron synapses).
Ironically, most doctors will not use omega-3s, mostly out of ignorance, but almost always because they cite that high doses of omega-3s decrease the ability of blood to clot and increase a patient’s risk of bleeding – a risk that is theoretical, but never been shown in any clinical study to be a clinical issue. Yet these same doctors almost immediately put their ICU patients on potent pharmaceutical blood thinners that increase the risk far greater than that of omegas. Now here is a study to show that even that risk has been overstated. The major barrier as to why omega-3s couldn’t be used following TBI is no longer valid.
A randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial scheduled to appear in the Jan 2014 issue of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that taking omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid as dietary supplements may help Alzheimer’s patients.
If you’ve ever felt drained after doing a crossword puzzle, working a math problem or taking a test, there’s a reason, says Dr. Paul Foster, professor of clinical psychology at Middle Tennessee State University and a practicing psychologist.
“There is an idea out there that you have a process of cognitive fatigue that is similar to physical fatigue. If you’re exercising, you get tired. If you’re using your brain, it feels tired,” Foster said.
The fatigue occurs likely because of a physiological process.
“Whenever you learn information, you’re developing connections between populations of neurons in the brain. … If you learn something, then something has changed in your brain,” Foster said. “The neuron structure is changing.”
The process is called long-term potentiation, which is a long-lasting enhancement in signal transmission between neurons. Essentially, your brain becomes stronger.
New research may help connect the dots between traumatic brain injury and the risk for memory and other brain-related problems later in life.
Brain imaging technology known as positron emission tomography (PET) shows that people who have had a traumatic brain injury develop so-called “plaques” in their brain like those seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.
“Our research has shown, for the first time, that PET imaging can show amyloid deposits in the brain after head injury,” said study author Dr. David Menon of the anesthesia division at the University of Cambridge, England. And these deposits can show up within hours of the blow to the head.
A pair of Canadian scientists are challenging the fact that manufacturers of some cooking oils are entitled to make health claims about the products.
They argue that new evidence suggests oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids but contain little or no omega-3 fatty acids should not be labelled as beneficial to heart health.
The specific types of oils are corn, safflower and sunflower.
Listen today, Monday, November 11th, 2013, when Dr. Lewis is a guest on Let’s Talk Nutrition (2-4pm EST) , hosted by Dr. Michael Garko. Listen live at http://letstalknutrition.com/