The Continuing Deterioration of The Brain after the initial Traumatic Brain Injury

detriorationOn November 20, 2007, Andre Waters, the former defensive back of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, committed suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was three days before Thanksgiving. He was a father of three children and 44 years old at the time of his death. Mr. Waters was known to his family and friends as an easy going and caring man and his tragic death confounded them.

After his death, an autopsy of Waters' brain was performed. According to the leading forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy of his brain, Water's brain looked like that of an 85 year old man with Alzheimer's. The forensic pathologist believed that the brain damage suffered by Waters due to repeated concussions may have led to his depression and suicide. The expert believed that the continued deterioration of the brain tissue suffered earlier in Water's life lead to the depression and eventual suicide.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur from various types of trauma including a motor vehicle accident wherein the brain is subjected to the sudden acceleration and deceleration force or coup contra coup type of force to repeated trauma from sports such as football and boxing. The effect of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) often does not surface until years later. However, the deterioration of the brain tissue due to the traumatic brain injury (TBI) will be building up slowly over time.

The progressive deterioration of the brain tissue from the traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to severe memory loss, dementia and/or Alzheimer's.

The brain tissue that is primarily damaged in Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBI) are the white fatty tissue called axons. The axons function as the communication pathways for signals between the different parts of the brain. When a brain is subjected to a sudden acceleration and deceleration type of force such as when a person is rear ended a car accident (the brain is caused to suddenly move backwards and forward bouncing against the rigid and bony surface of the skull), the axons are stretched and/or torn. 

The structural damage to the axons lead to signal disruption and/or interference within the brain leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments as well as psychiatric and psychological consequences.

A neuro-psychological evaluation (NPE) is employed to test the cognitive functions of the brain to determine cognitive impairment. The neuro-psychological evaluation (NPE) is done by a neuro-psychologist, a psychologist with expertise in cognitive functions.

In addition to neuro-psychological evaluations (NPEs), advanced neuro-imaging technologies can be employed to determine the structural damage to the brain such as Quantitative Electro-Encephalogram (QEEG), MRI with Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). These technologies were not previously available and until recently were not employed to investigate traumatic brain injury (TBI).

NGUYEN LEFTT P.C. – Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys / Lawyers
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