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Electrical activity in injured brains

Massachusetts researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have released their results from a brain injury study. The researchers studied the electrical activity in the brains of children while sleeping and found that nighttime spikes in activity could possibly point to developmental defects, autism or even an underlying brain injury. While awake, the brain activity in children can show up as completely normal but increased spikes while sleeping, if left unexamined, can potentially cause future problems with development or issues with learning.

The sleep study occurred over a 14-year period and monitored 147 patients doctors suspected may have had increased brain activity while sleeping. They based their suspicions on seizures the patients may have had or the failure to meet developmental milestones. Physicians who were unaware of the patient's prior history read the EEG's and MRI's. The group that had the spikes in brain activity while sleeping showed brain lesions in a majority of the cases. These children were likelier to have a damaged thalamus and even early stroke.

This study shows that a brain injury suffered at an earlier age has the potential to detrimentally affect a child's future cognitive development. Such detrimental injury could mean a life time of medical bills and care, resulting in steep expenses. Delays in development could mean children lose such milestones as language, fine motor skills or even the ability to walk. Due to the dire nature of brain injuries and the possible expenses that may result, it is critical to hold the negligent accountable.

The Massachusetts study also points to these delays preventing children from ever fully catching up on their development. However, researchers hope to eventually conduct future trials where drug therapy could be used to attempt to suppress the nighttime EEG spikes and help children suffering from these kinds of injuries.

Source: CNBC, "Overlooked nighttime spikes on EEGs may reflect an underlying brain injury," April 25, 2012

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