Traumatic Brain Injury Patients: New Hope for Memory Problems
Each year, more Americans are forced to struggle with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) sustained due to workplace falls, car accidents, and other dangerous events. Eager to heal, these individuals diligently pursue new treatments and learn all they can about new research studies that may one day help them improve their functioning skills.
Fortunately, new studies are published frequently, like the one reported in an April 2017 New York Times article on “brain pacemakers.” This University of Pennsylvania study broke new ground since it helped reveal exactly when the pacemakers should be used to stimulate the brains of the participants with epilepsy who were plagued with memory loss.
Here’s additional information about this new study that may not only help those battling epilepsy – it may also help those whose memory problems are due to traumatic brain injuries, dementia, and other medical conditions.
Memory Problems Also Plague Many Military TBI Patients
In addition to helping everyday citizens whose lives are compromised by memory loss and other cognitive issues tied to traumatic brain injuries and various medical conditions – a very large percentage of our returning Afghanistan and Iran war veterans also face similar challenges.
In fact, prior to this University of Pennsylvania study addressing memory loss, our Defense Department provided at least $77 million in research grants to those searching for new ways to help our war veterans better handle their cognitive thinking issues and memory loss.
Private research grants also help fund this important work. What was particularly unique about this University of Pennsylvania study was that it revealed the different results achieved upon stimulating participants’ brains when they were experiencing both “high” and “low” memory functioning states.
All prior studies had simply assumed that stimulating people’s brains did not require precise timing.
Precise Factors Involved in the University of Pennsylvania Study
The recent Pennsylvania study involved the participation of 150 epilepsy patients, along with research collaborators active in 20 other American institutions, including the Mayo Clinic. As part of the study, participants were asked to memorize various lists of words that they had to later try and recall after brief distractions. Each patient’s brain was carefully monitored so that those conducting the study could try and stimulate it during both higher and lower memory functioning states.
One particularly interesting fact learned was that when the individuals received added brain stimulation when they were experiencing their best recall, the stimulations caused them to perform 15 to 20 percent worse on the memorized lists. However, if they received the added stimulation when the researchers could document that they were fighting through a diminished memory state – their measured improvement or enhancement effect increased by about 12 to 13 percent.
Background Tests That Made This University of Pennsylvania Study Possible
This recent study, published in the Current Biology journal, was made possible by many decades of earlier research into how to properly decode brain signals – and attempt to stimulate higher states of functioning.
Many of the earlier studies also involved implanting electrodes into the participants’ brains like the University of Pennsylvania study
Over the years, many epilepsy patients have undergone very similar testing prior to their doctors determining whether brain surgery might lessen their seizures – or make them go away for extended periods of time.
One Psychiatrist with Epilepsy Even Took Part in the Study
Aware that her own epilepsy has long created memory problems for her, psychiatrist Doris Greenblatt became a willing participant. After the study ended, she said it proved to be a bit humiliating since her memory was not as sharp as she had hoped. However, her own condition clearly improved during the past year when she underwent epilepsy surgery.
New Hope for Future Studies and Those Struggling with Memory Loss
While those who ran this study can’t be completely certain that it will one day help all brain injury patients – they did say that their discovery that there are specific times when brain stimulation works best will likely benefit many others seeking help with their own memory losses in the future.
If you’ve suffered a recent traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of others, be sure to contact your New York personal injury attorney. We can help you evaluate the facts of your case to see if you might be entitled to obtain compensation for all your suffering and injuries.