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Can Gut Bacteria Affect Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery?

May 15th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in Brain Injuries on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. In recent years, more researchers and doctors have been investigating the link between gut bacteria and the brain. While researchers have been studying the role of gut bacteria and overall health for years, it has only been in recent years that researchers have identified a link between a person’s microbiome and things like mood, anxiety depression, autism, and cognitive processing. According to a fascinating new piece in the Atlantic, researchers have found that they could reduce the symptoms of autism and anxiety in mice by altering the mice’s microbiome.


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For example, individuals with autism were found to have a different microbiome than individuals without the condition. When the microbiome of mice with similar compositions to people with autism were altered, the mice’s symptoms of autism improved. Similar work has been done with anxiety.

Even eating yogurt, which contains probiotics, has been found in one study to affect the brain. Healthy women who ate yogurt twice a day reacted more calmly to negative facial expressions. There seems to be a direct link between a person’s gut bacteria and the brain. While it isn’t entirely clear how gut bacteria and the brain interact, there appears to be some connection.

Can these findings extend to individuals suffering from traumatic brain injury? Individuals with traumatic brain injury can suffer from altered moods, depression, problems sleeping, and anxiety. One proposed study plans to do investigate how gut bacteria can impact traumatic brain injury. A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh is seeking a grant to study the link between the microbiome and patient outcomes after traumatic brain injury. The study is designed to discover how changes in a critically-ill patient’s microbiome can impact the patient’s quality of life and recovery. The research is still very new. It is entirely possible that traumatic brain injury can have an impact on the microbiome and vice versa. We could be dealing with a chicken or the egg scenario. For example, patients with serious traumatic brain injury might spend extended time in the intensive care unit where they may be exposed to antibiotics and cleaning practices that can alter their microbiome. A visit to the ER can come with the consequence of impacting a person’s gut bacteria, especially if a person ends up on antibiotics.

Evolutionarily, it makes sense that gut bacteria could possibly impact mood and anxiety. Less anxious and happier people are more likely to socialize, making it more evolutionarily beneficial for gut bacteria to spread. It is clear that we still have much to learn.

For patients who have traumatic brain injury, getting quality medical treatment is essential to give a patient the best possible chance for recovery. However, quality rehabilitative care can be quite costly. If you or a loved one has suffered from a brain injury due to the negligence or neglect of another person or party, you may be entitled to seek damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are brain injury lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana who may be able to help you and your family. Visit us at to learn more about how we may be able to help you seek damages so you and your loved ones can seek the medical care you need and deserve.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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