As a trial lawyer handling traumatic brain injury cases, one of my frustrations is that serious diffuse axonal injuries cannot be visualized with normal CT and MRI scans. High resolution PET scans combined with functional MRI (fMRI) can show more, but access is extremely limited in this part of the country.
MIT Technology Review has reported on three new imaging techniques that may help physicians diagnose mild brain damage that is now invisible to standard CT and MRI scans. (Also see summary article at medgadget.com.)
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a variation of MRI that tracks water molecules in the brain’s white matter, not visible on a standard MRI. The damage appears to correlate with cognitive deficits, including slowed reaction time.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) can analyze the spectral frequencies of chemicals in the body. This new technique measures chemical concentrations across the whole brain indicative of damaged axons and traumatic brain injury.
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) measures magnetic fields produced by the electrical activity of nerve cells, to pinpoint the source of abnormal brain activity. This often overlaps with the location of damage detected using DTI.
If will probably be a while before these technological advances become clinically available. However, I look forward to future clients having these advantages, both for improving medical treatment and for enabling me to prove the truth of their often invisible brain injuries.
Ken Shigley is a Georgia trial lawyer focused on cases of catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death. He has been rated as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine) and one of the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine). He has represented numerous survivors of brain and spinal cord injuries. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he served a decade on the faculty of the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program. Mr. Shigley is currently Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.