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Could our genes affect how we recover from a brain injury?


One of the most catastrophic injuries that a person can suffer in an accident is one that damages the brain. Depending on where and how severely a brain is damaged, a victim could suffer a wide range of physical and psychological consequences including memory loss, chronic headaches, confusion and social deficits.

Minimizing the damage that is done after a person suffers a brain injury is crucial. We have known that responding quickly and being acutely aware of symptoms of a brain injury are both important factors in treating a brain injury, but a recent report suggests that our genes can also play a significant role in how well people recover from a traumatic brain injury.

According to a recent study, researchers believe that one gene could be an indicator of how well people recover. The gene, which is identified as BDNF, has two variants that determine how certain amino acids are utilized. These variants are called Met and Val. Based on how these variants combine, whether it results in Met/Val, Val/Val or Met/Met, a person can incorporate amino acids differently.

Researchers looked at the combinations in a group of military veterans who had all suffered a traumatic brain injury. Based on extensive testing and comparisons, they determined that the people with a Val/Val combination performed significantly worse in cognitive functions than those with a Met/Val or Met/Met combination.

These results are interesting in that they may provide some crucial information when it comes to treating a brain injury. Genetic testing could help doctors adjust care methods based on the genetic differences that change a person’s susceptibility to treatment.

Being able to predict recovery is one thing; but going through the recovery process is quite another. Victims of a brain injury often experience significant physical, social and emotional changes as a result of their injury and they may also require long-term care. In order to cover these costs, Massachusetts victims of an accident resulting in a brain injury may want to work with an attorney to pursue the compensation they deserve.


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


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