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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI neurosurgery resident co-authors traumatic brain injury study

Mani Sandhu is working to compile data about how brain injuries cause a higher risk for depression in women than in men.
Katina Zentz
The Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building is seen on April 17, 2018.

The correlation between traumatic brain injuries, or TBI’s, and depression is still being researched, and experts at the University of Iowa are contributing to the discussion.

UI hospital neurosurgery resident Mani Sandhu has co-authored a meta-analysis study on how traumatic brain injuries have differing effects on depression in men and women.

Sandhu, along with a team of neurosurgery researchers, read through approximately 1,500 research papers on traumatic brain injuries to see how many ever mentioned how a brain injury could affect women differently than men.

After going through all the papers, the team whittled the numbers down to only the few that actually referenced differing effects between different genders.

“It was very fascinating because, in so many studies that come out, no one has shed light upon the gender differences,” Sandhu said. “A second thing that we found in the deep review of literature was that there’s a lot of discrepancies, so we just wanted to do a meta-analysis to see what is the actual difference in the incidence of depression after [traumatic brain injury] in male versus female.”

New York Medical College Ph.D. student Antonia Schonwald worked with Sandhu to extract data from the medical paper during a fellowship at Yale University. Schonwald said based on the study’s preliminary data, women are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop depression after a brain injury than men are.

“The causes and consequences of [traumatic brain injury] in women are an important yet neglected area in the public health sector,” Schonwald said. “I think this study highlights the disparity in research data between genders and should draw focus on the need for further research on gender-related differences in both post-[traumatic brain injury] research as well as neurology as a whole.”

Both Sandhu and Schonwald said any patient who experiences a traumatic brain injury should be aware of the risks of developing depression, even if they have no prior mental health issues.

The next steps for the research will most likely involve testing done on actual patients to look at how susceptible men and women are to depression after a head injury.

Sandhu said this kind of study is about a year away depending on the feedback they receive on their first paper. These findings can be applied to preventative care for head injuries in areas like the military and athletics.

RELATED: UI researchers find potential link between DNA changes and suicidal behavior

Now that traumatic brain injury-induced depression is gaining more recognition and evidential support, more can be done to test for it immediately after an injury for early detection of mental health changes, especially now for women, Sandhu said.

The study will also test whether women are more likely to experience depression because of something that alters their neurochemistry, or if there are third variables such as socioeconomic status or social history.

Sandhu said he hopes the research will result in more screening for depression in women following traumatic brain injuries.

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About the Contributors
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.
Katina Zentz
Katina Zentz, Creative Director
Email: [email protected] Katina Zentz is the Creative Director of The Daily Iowan. She is a senior at the University of Iowa and transferred from the Ringling College of Art and Design where she studied filmmaking. Katina now studies journalism and art and continues to dedicate herself to learning more about photojournalism. She started working at the DI in spring 2018 and enjoys photographing political events, sports, and portraiture. She was the photo editor during her junior year.