Date of Award
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences
Since the year 2000, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reported 414,000 documented cases of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among individuals serving in the United States Armed Forces (Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 2020). Traumatic events to the head as a result from car accidents, falls, explosions, and gunshot wounds can lead to a disruption of normal cognitive functioning. Roughly 80% of diagnosed TBIs are mild in nature, commonly referred to as concussions, and can range from mild, moderate, severe, and penetrating (O’Neil et al., 2013). However due to the difficulty of diagnosing a TBI most cases go undocumented, or patients do not seek treatment. TBIs that are left untreated can result in progressive neurostructural damage which can lead to the development of dementia-related diseases as well as psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (McKee et al., 2014). The physical and mental health conditions that can result from sustaining a TBI can drastically impact the lives and families of those injured veterans. With an estimated 8 million adults suffering from PTSD each year as per the National Center for PTSD (2020), researchers must understand how to utilize the linkage between a TBI and PTSD in order to appropriately prevent progressive neurodegeneration and any associated psychological problems (Gradus, 2019).
Previous studies have shown evidence that both single-incidence and repetitive mild TBIs (mTBIs) can lead to atrophy of the grey and white matter in the brain and can promote the acceleration of neurodegeneration in the brain (Gradus, 2019).This chronic neurodegeneration can pose an increased risk for the development of progressive neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD), and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) (Gradus, 2019; National Center for PTSD, 2020). Accompanying neurodegeneration are behavioral changes, executive dysfunction, memory loss, and cognitive impairments (DePalma et al., 2018). Researchers have begun to find associations between PTSD and TBI as a result of the disruptions to certain neuropathways from the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex (DePalma et al., 2018; McKee et al., 2014). This capstone project is a literature review of the neurostructural and cognitive-behavioral changes that result from traumatic brain injuries. The research provided in this paper explores the connections between neurostructural damage and progressive neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), FTLD, and CTE. Psychological effects that stem from sustaining a TBI including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the increased risk for suicide and selfharm are also discussed
Wiener, Andrew R., "Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): The Progressive Neurodegeneration and Mental Health Decline in United States Veterans" (2021). PCOM Capstone Projects. 24.