Entries in Head Injury (4)


Head Injury, Herbicide Linked to Parkinson's Disease in Survey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Adults who reported ever having had a head injury and who were exposed to the herbicide paraquat had nearly a three-fold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a survey published Monday in the journal Neurology.

Researchers at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health surveyed more than 1,000 adults ages 35 and older who lived in central California.  Some 357 of the participants were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a movement disorder characterized by tremors and loss of coordination.

Participants with the disease were nearly twice as likely as those without the disease to report having had a head injury in which they lost consciousness for more than five minutes.

Using a geographical tracking system, the researchers also found that those with Parkinson's disease were also more likely to live within 500 meters of a spot where paraquat was used.  Paraquat is a chemical liquid commonly used to kill plants and weeds.

"While each of these two factors is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's on their own, the combination is associated with greater risk than just adding the two factors together," Dr. Beate Ritz, lead author of the study, said in a public statement.

The trauma from the brain injury may leave brain cells more vulnerable to the exposure of the toxic pesticide, Ritz said.

While there are no definitive causes for Parkinson's disease, the study is one of many to suggest that environmental factors, not just genetic variations, may be likely triggers in some cases, many experts said.

"This demonstrates the importance of considering multiple risk factors in combination when assessing a person's risk of [Parkinson's disease]," said Dr. David Simon, associate professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The study also adds to growing data on the harmful effects of pesticide exposure.

"Based on the current study, this recommendation to avoid heavy pesticide exposure may be particularly important for people who have a history of significant head trauma with loss of consciousness for more than 5 minutes, as they may be particularly susceptible to the subsequent effects of pesticide exposure," said Simon.

But besides recommending that adults avoid brain injury and exposure to chemicals -- which doctors would do anyhow -- "it would be inappropriate for clinicians to do anything with this information, other than be aware," said Dr. David Cifu, chairman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond.

The study is not strong enough to suggest that pesticides or even a traumatic brain injury can cause Parkinson's disease, only that in this group, some kind of link can be made between the three.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Children Should Be Monitored Longer Before Getting CT Scans

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Nearly half of all children who are brought into the emergency room for head injuries undergo CT scans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

But a new study suggests for many of these cases, a CT scan may be unnecessary.

Instead, children should be observed in the emergency room for a few hours longer before the physicians make a decision to send them for a CT scan, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

"The general conundrum is that blunt head trauma in children is common.  Serious traumatic brain injury is less common," said Dr. Lise Nigrovic, emergency medicine pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Boston and lead author of the study.  "But in some cases, it's hard to tell the difference."

CT scans are generally safe, Nigrovic said.  But studies suggest repeated radiation exposure from the scans over time raises the risk of some forms of cancer.  It's unclear how big a risk the scans pose.

Some children may show symptoms of head injury such as headache or dizziness, which warrant further attention.  But for many, it may just be a bump on the head and the signs could wane within a few hours.  While the study didn't assess how long doctors should wait, numerous studies suggest four to six hours can reveal telltale signs of injury.

"It's a question of degree and number of collective symptoms," said Nigrovic.

More serious signs of brain injury include vomiting, loss of consciousness, and impaired memory over a longer period of time.  These signs are less common among children who end up in the emergency room.

According to Nigrovic, physicians should spend more time monitoring for trauma symptoms than skipping straight to scans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Head Injuries Increase Future Risk of Death

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GLASGOW, Scotland) -- People who suffer a head injury may face a greater risk of death years after the injury, according to new research reported by WebMD.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow found that up to 13 years after even a slight head injury, an individual was nearly three times more likely to die compared to those who have never suffered a head injury.

“More than 40% of young people and adults admitted to hospitals in Glasgow after a head injury were dead 13 years later,” wrote researcher T. M. McMillan of the University of Glasgow. “This stark finding is not explained by age, gender or deprivation characteristics.”

The highest level of death in the 757 people studied occurred in the year following the head injury. Within 13 years, 305 of those individuals had died. That number is 19 percent higher than a seperate group of 757 who had not suffered a head injury.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blood Test to Flag Concussions? Army Says Yes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ALACHUA, Fla.) –- Preliminary reports on as-yet unpublished Army research have offered a look at what may be in the future for the diagnosis of mild to moderate brain injury.

Army researchers say they may have found a new procedure that may make it possible someday to diagnose mild concussions quickly and easily.

Led by Banyan Biomarkers, researchers drew and tested the blood of 34 people taken to the hospital for head injuries and then diagnosed with mild concussions at a trauma unit.

The blood tests showed the presence of certain proteins -- biomarkers -- that do not normally show up in the blood of uninjured people. The theory is that the concussive jolt to the brain unleashes these proteins in the bloodstream.

If, in fact, the biomarkers in the subjects' blood turn out to be correlated with their brain injuries, it would be the first suggestion that a blood test to look for brain injury in humans could be a reality.

Experts contacted by ABC News differed in their opinions on the Banyan-Army study.

A much larger study, funded by the U.S. Defense Department, is expected to begin next year. It will involve 1,200 patients at 30 trauma centers around the country.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio