Findings can help in patient treatment and in development of injury-prevention programs

This week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine features an article that highlights an unprecedented analysis of the nation’s childhood head injuries. The study, authored by physicians at UC Davis School of Medicine and Washington University School of Medicine, analyzed more than 43,000 children who were evaluated for head trauma at 25 emergency departments around the United States.

The only drug currently approved for treatment of stroke’s crippling effects shows promise, when administered as a nasal spray, to help heal similar damage in less severe forms of traumatic brain injury.

In the first examination of its kind, researchers Ye Xiong, Ph.D, Zhongwu Liu, Ph.D., and Michael Chopp, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute, found in animal studies that the brain’s limited ability to repair itself after trauma can be enhanced when treated with the drug tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator.

The potential for doctors to measure damaging "brain tsunamis” in injured patients without opening the skull has moved a step closer to reality, thanks to pioneering research at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Neuroscience Institute.

Posted by New York Times

The technique has provided the clearest picture yet of how neural circuits function, and raised hopes of new therapies for depression and anxiety as well as cognitive problems.

The Department of Defense on Tuesday announced a $40 million investment in what has become the fastest-moving branch of neuroscience: direct brain recording. Two centers, one at the University of Pennsylvania and the other at the University of California, Los Angeles, won contracts to develop brain implants for memory deficits. Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain. Unlike brain imaging, direct brain recording allows scientists to conduct experiments while listening to the brain’s internal dialogue in real time, using epilepsy patients like Ralph or people with Parkinson’s disease as active collaborators.

Among patients with closed head injury, neither the administration of erythropoietin nor maintaining hemoglobin concentration of at least 10 g/dL resulted in improved neurological outcome at 6 months.

In patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), neither the administration of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) or maintaining a higher hemoglobin concentration through blood transfusion resulted in improved neurological outcome at 6 months. Transfusing at higher hemoglobin concentrations was associated with a higher risk of adverse events. Patients with severe traumatic brain injury commonly develop anemia. For patients with neurological injury, anemia is a potential cause of secondary injury, which may worsen neurological outcomes. Treatment of anemia may include transfusions of packed red blood cells or administration of erythropoietin. There is limited information about the effect of erythropoietin or a high hemoglobin transfusion threshold (if the hemoglobin concentration drops below a certain level, a transfusion is performed) after a TBI, according to background information in the article.