A single Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can lead to continued neurological degeneration that affects knowledge until nearly 20 years later, says research presented Wednesday by the American Association for Advancement of Science.
The report found that a single occurrence of TBI can bring chronic effects by triggering the buildup of the “Tau” protein, which plays an important role in Alzheimer’s generation.
Although previous research has evaluated the negative effects on brain functions of repeated occurrences of TBI, the study presented on this day analyzed the effects of a single episode, after following up to 18 years after the trauma has been presented.
The research, led by Professor Nikos Gorgoraptis of Imperial College London and published on 5 September in the journal Science Translational Medicine, conducted live assessments on 21 participants and compared them with 11 other individuals as a control group.
Images of positron emission tomography (PET or CT) were analyzed using the chemical compound ‘flortaucipir’, which binds to the Tau protein and facilitates its image and recognition.
Thus, the researchers were able to check for the increased presence of Tau in patients who suffered a single concussion.
Similarly, despite being a single traumatic episode, affected people had “worse performance in memory and cognitive performance tests”.
Patients affected by this “increased Tau deposition” also showed “more severe neurological degeneration,” the report states.
Researchers recommended designing therapies to identify tau’s presence in patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, even if it was only once years ago.