Current TBI Treatment Research
While the effects of traumatic brain injury can be devastating, the medical field is making constant advances in the understanding and treatment of these often serious and debilitating injuries. For example, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) carries out TBI research to:
- Gain a better understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of brain damage,
- Develop strategies and interventions that reduce the risk of primary and secondary brain damage in the days following a TBI
- Develop more effective TBI treatments and means of assisting in the long-term recovery of function.
Researchers can Simulate TBI in the Lab
Researchers have devised a tool that allows them to simulate trauma that occurs with TBI via a cell culture. This enables them to control the extent of injury and then manipulate factors to understand the responses of these cells to trauma. Furthermore, this device can help researchers understand and test the effects of medications on traumatic brain injury.
Interesting and Important Areas of TBI Treatment Research
Limiting Secondary Trauma to the Brain
One of the most pervasive types of brain injury following even a mild TBI is known medically as diffuse axonal injury. Through research, experts are examining the role of calcium ion influx and other chemicals in this complicating consequence of TBI. They have found promising pharmaceutical treatments and even the effectiveness of induced hypothermia in controlling these chemical complications following a TBI.
Furthermore, researchers are trying to learn more about the brain's natural process of recovery and how certain factors-such as neuroexcitation, low oxygen levels, and low blood flow-can contribute to long-term complications such as spasticity, pain, seizures, and memory problems. By manipulating these factors, researchers hope to discover how to facilitate the brain's natural healing process more effectively.
TBI and Parkinson's
Researchers are interested in studying the brain chemical dopamine, since trauma to the frontal lobes in TBI can damage the dopaminergic system and degeneration of the neurons that produce this chemical is the primary cause of Parkinson's disease.
Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research is an exciting area of TBI treatment research.
Brain plasticity after TBI
Brain plasticity refers to the brain's ability to adapt to deficits and injuries. Researchers are learning more about the extent of plasticity after TBI and developing treatments to facilitate plasticity as a way to restore function.
The Improvement of Rehabilitation Programs
The Congressional Children's Health Act of 2000 authorized the NINDS to conduct research to determine ways of designing more effective therapies to restore normal functioning in cognition and behavior following TBI.
Research through Clinical Trials
The NINDS and other TBI research groups develop and offer clinical trials in which appropriate patients are studied to determine the effectiveness of new treatments and much more. If you are interested in participating in a TBI clinical trial, talk with your doctor who can look into current open trials and determine your eligibility for participation.