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Brain injury recovery for accident victims may be linked to gene

Whether we realize it or not, brain injuries are occurring every day in our communities. Brain injuries can happen while we’re playing sports, driving in the car, or walking the dog, any time we experience a hard hit to the head. When a brain injury becomes severe it is considered a traumatic brain injury, which can occur during a car crash or similar event. In fact, car accidents are one of the leading causes for brain injuries. Researchers have been looking at the issue of brain injuries for many years, seeking to better understand the impact on the brain so that better treatments can be developed.

A recent study examined a hypothesis that brain injury recovery is linked to a person’s genetics, which contain codes that influence how our neurons regenerate after an impact. Researchers found that in fact a person’s overall ability to recover from a brain injury may be linked to the variation of a single gene.

In order to determine their level of recovery, researchers had to find a group of patients who had undergone some analysis prior to the time of their brain injury. One subset of brain injury victims that has that type of data are veterans, who undergo mental and physical testing when they first entered the armed forces. Researchers were able to look back at their results on the Armed Forces Qualifications Test and compare it with present-day test results looking at some of the same issues such as I.Q. After adjusting to severity of the injury and pre-injury I.Q. levels, researchers found that two of the gene variants showed an advantage over the third by a margin as wide as eight I.Q. points.

These results are not conclusive at this point but the finding does help researchers piece together the complicated issues surrounding recovery from brain injuries.

Source: Fox News, “Differences in a single gene may influence recovery from traumatic brain injury,” Loren Grush, Feb. 27, 2014

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