The worst part about suffering a traumatic brain injury is not the injury itself, but the related illnesses that develop after the accident. Epilepsy is one of the most common illnesses developed after a traumatic brain injury. In fact, 50 percent of brain injury victims develop epilepsy, according to a team of researchers from the University of California at Berkley. Since 2002, the Berkley researchers have been investigating why epilepsy is so common among brain injury victims.
They found that during a car accident or sports-related impact, the blood-brain barrier, a chemical shield for the nervous system, is compromised. Normally, blood that has moved through the body should not be in the brain. However, after an impact blood can cross the damaged barrier carrying albumin, a very common protein produced in the liver. “We were surprised, even a little disappointed, that it was such a common component of the blood—nothing exotic at all—that led to epilepsy,” said one of the researchers.
The albumin reacts with another brain-based protein, over-exciting brain cells, which leads to a seizure. The Berkley team is working on a chemical therapy to block the albumin reaction to prevent brain injury victims from developing epilepsy.
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