National study provides insights into childhood head injuries

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.

Stroke-Fighting Drug Offers Potential Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment

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.

DARPA and Stanford Brain Imaging Collaboration helps to bring a new CLARITY to the world of Neuroscience

Thanks to a 100 million dollar grant through the White House Brain Mapping Project to the NIH, NSF, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), a dynamically new approach to how we view the brain has arisen: the CLARITY Brain Imaging Technique. With this technique, scientists are hoping to map brain connections on a large scale, visualizing how every single neuron is fired and interconnected with the other ones in the system. 

Probing Brain’s Depth, Trying to Aid Memory

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 TBI, Maintaining Higher Hemoglobin Concentration or Receiving Hormone EPO Does Not Improve Neurological Outcomes

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.

Study finds cognitive performance can be improved in teens months, years after traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injuries from sports, recreational activities, falls or car accidents are the leading cause of death and disability in children and adolescents. While previously it was believed that the window for brain recovery was at most one year after injury, new research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas shows cognitive performance can be improved to significant degrees months, and even years, after injury, given targeted brain training. "The after-effects of concussions and more severe brain injuries can be very different and more detrimental to a developing child or adolescent brain than an adult brain," said Dr. Lori Cook, study author and director of the Center for BrainHealth's pediatric brain injury programs. "While the brain undergoes spontaneous recovery in the immediate days, weeks, and months following a brain injury, cognitive deficits may continue to evolve months to years after the initial brain insult when the brain is called upon to perform higher-order reasoning and critical thinking tasks."

Gender may contribute to recovery time after concussion

Each year, more than 17 million Americans suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), more commonly known as a concussion, of which approximately 15 percent suffer persistent symptoms beyond three months.

Assessing outcomes and recovery time after concussion can be very subjective. Typically, physicians must rely on patient cooperation to assess injury severity.

Head injuries can make children loners

This is a preliminary study but we want to go into more of the details about why working memory and processing speed are associated with social functioning and how specific brain structures might be related to improve outcome.

A new cell type is implicated in epilepsy caused by traumatic brain injury

A new study in mice identifies increased levels of a specific neurotransmitter as a contributing factor connecting traumatic brain injury (TBI) to post-traumatic epilepsy. The findings suggest that damage to brain cells called interneurons disrupts neurotransmitter levels and plays a role in the development of epilepsy after a traumatic brain injury.