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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Sep 13, 2019 07:21PM
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a brain injury condition that is the end stage consequence of multiple concussion injuries. It is common in athletes that play violent contact sports, but the diagnosis is not limited to this group. All groups that experience multiple concussive injuries are exposed to that risk. It is a common pathology in our military veterans. In a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield study, there has been a tremendous increase in youth concussion diagnosis.
A concussion causes diffuse axonal injury (DAI), an injury condition that is not visualized on a routine brain MRI or CT scan even if contrast dye is used. To assess DAI, a specialized test such as a brain MRI-DTI must be done in order to demonstrate the microstructural injury that has occurred. The diffuse nature of DAI interferes with network functions in the brain and causes cognitive and emotional problems, balance problems, sleep disorders, visual function problems and more.

Fiber tract analysis of localized DAI can be done in specific areas of the brain such as corpus callosum (connects the right and left hemisphere of the brain), the temporal lobes (responsible for memory), thalamus (sleep-wake cycle) and other areas. Although rehabilitation may restore some functions by rewiring and re-networking, if we do not heal the brain injury itself, the patient is set up for early neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Imaging is easy. Those who have had concussions in their lifetime and are concerned should consider having the study done.

Carol Henricks, MD practices at Northstar Hyperbarics, located at 7598 N. La Cholla Blvd., Tucson. Connect at 520-229-1238 or

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