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Jul 17, 2014 08:43 AM EDT

Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect Thinking Skills, Study

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Mild traumatic brain injuries from accidnets can cause thinking and memory problems, according to a Newcastle University study.

For the study, researchers compared the performances of 44 participants with mild traumatic brain injury with nine people suffering from moderate traumatic brain injury and a control group of 33 people without any brain injury.

The participants were asked to undertake memory skills and cognitive tests. At the same time, researchers took brain scans of participants using Diffusion MRI to detect damage to the brain cells and monitor fiber tracts (that link the brain region).

Researchers found that participants with brain injuries were associated with damages in white matter including disruptions to nerve axons. On tests regarding verbal letter fluency, thinking and memory skills, those with injuries performed 25 percent lower than their healthy counterparts.

However, one year after the injury, participants with and without brain injuries performed similarly on thinking and memory tests. Plus, researchers still observed areas of brain damage in people with injuries.

"Most of the studies thus far have focused on people with severe and chronic traumatic brain injury," said study author Andrew Blamire in a press release. "This finding is especially important, as 90 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are mild to moderate."

"The areas of brain damage were not as widespread across the brain as previously, but focused in certain areas of the brain, which could indicate that the brain was compensating for the injuries."

The finding is published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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