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Red Blood Cell Boosts May Prove Critical in Brain Injury Improvement

Med Page Today reported on new brain injury research out of the University of Southern California. According to reports on the project published in the March issues of Archives of Surgery, researchers believe that boosting red cell production may help patients who have developed brain injuries. Our Illinois brain injury attorneys understand that each and every study which offers hope for improving the condition of those with these injuries is good news.

This particular research effort involved testing the effect on traumatic brain injury patients who received a red cell production stimulant known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. Specifically, researchers found that those who were given the stimulant had a 75% lower mortality risk than those not given the agents. Of course decreased mortality rates to that large of a degree suggests that the red cell effect is quite robust.

The MedPage analysis of the research effort is a bit technical. However, the article explains that animal models suggest that the stimulant decreases secondary neuronal damage on top of improving overall outcomes for TBI victims. As our Chicago traumatic brain injury lawyers have often explained, it is the secondary damage is just as severe as the harm from the initial trauma which causes the TBI. The secondary damage, often referred to as a “tsunami,” leads to subsequent brain damage that is often never able to be reversed. Limiting the tsunami has long been an important medical goal, which would go a long way to improving the long-term living conditions for brain injury victims.

This latest research effort produced findings similar to a retrospective effort that the researchers had previously conducted. In that earlier effort, the investigators examined records of patients who had received the stimulating agent and compared them with patients who had not. A large survival benefit was found in those cases.

This most recent research project was actually spurred by an effort to verify the retrospective research project. This most recent project involved observational studies of patients who were admitted to an area hospital over a two year period. In total, 566 patients were examined. Of that group, 75 were giving the red cell boosting agent. Researchers then compared those individuals with a matched control group. The controls were selected to represent patients as similar as possible to those who had received that agent. There were no differences between the two groups in regards to demographics, severity of the injury, or similar measures. Of course this is important to isolate one single cause-in this case the stimulant-as being the actual factor responsible for any differences in the outcomes of the two groups of patients.

Of those two groups only 9.3% of patients who received the agent died while at the hospital compared with 25.3% of the control group. There was seemingly no major difference in a variety of other complications between the two groups, such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia, acute renal failure, and respiratory distress syndrome.

The researchers are next hoping to conduct n actual randomized experiment along the same lines as this latest effort. The randomized experiment would offer even stronger evidence, because this effort involved patients who either did or did not receive the agent at the discretion of their own physician, not random chance.

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