Natural brain recovery may not be best, scientists say

A lesson in neuroscience for West Virginia residents could include the information that after a traumatic brain injury, new brain cells begin to regenerate almost immediately. Though this may sound like a good thing, there is growing evidence that the natural process of new brain cell birth after a brain injury may actually increase the risk of seizures and memory decline.

Scientists have traditionally assumed that the neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells, that occurs after a head injury is helpful for recovery. But researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School have found that preventing the neurogenesis could be advantageous to patients.

The problem with the natural birth of new brain cells after injury, according to researchers, is that in a few weeks it slows to a level that is below normal for an uninjured brain. Studying laboratory rats, the researchers slowed the post-injury neurogenesis by using a drug. The rate of neurogenesis then resumed normal levels. It is normal for the ability of brain cells to regenerate to decline with age, but researchers found that after a head injury, the decline after a period of rapid regeneration had no relationship to age. In addition to an increased risk of epileptic seizures, brain cell decline could lead to memory and cognition problems.

Head injuries can sometimes appear to be minor, but a more serious problem could be present because symptoms sometimes do not always appear immediately. Walking away from an accident that might have caused a brain injury without seeking medical treatment could lead to health problems later, in addition to financial difficulties. When the accident was caused by another party's negligence, an attorney could assist the injured victim in seeking appropriate compensation.

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