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More Evidence That “Cooling” Minimizes Brain Injury

Brain injuries can strike at any time: when riding in the car, while stepping on a ladder, or even while walking through the snow. Any significant contact between the head and a hard object can cause serious brain damage. Much of that damage permanently affects the individuals capabilities, from walking and talking to experiencing certain emotions.

Because of the significant harm that results from brain injuries, medical experts have long-been looking at ways to minimize the damage. This can be done in two ways–prevent the harmful contact in the first place and/or stop the “cascading” of brain damage after the injury. One of the largest challenges faced by those addressing the issue is the tendency for brain damage to actually increase in the hours and days after an initial injury. For example, while significant harm may develop in the exact second of an impact to the head,, the damage that exists at that exact moment is not the maximum harm to the injured individual. Instead, the brain may continue to suffer expanded injury even after the impact, leading to more and more (sometimes permanent) harm.

So can anything be done to minimize the cascading effect?

New Brain Injury Research
Many medical researchers believe there is. One of the most promising areas involves “chilling” the brain following an injury. As reported in a recent story from Futurity, findings from a new experiment were just released which suggest that mild cooling following a head injury can minimize subsequent epileptic seizures.

The results were announced following testing done on animals and published in the Annals of Neurology. The next step is conducting clinical trials at hospitals to verify the findings on actual patients. In describing the value of the research, the lead researcher noted that, “These findings demonstrate for the first time that prevention of epileptic seizures after traumatic brain injury is possible, and that epilepsy prophylaxis in patients could be achieved more easily than previously thought.”

Epilepsy is not uncommon in brain injury patients following the accidents. Right now there is little known about what causes the seizures post-injury, and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it or treat it. Hopefully this latest research is the first step in changing that.

In particular, researchers found that cooling the brain in the test subject by two degrees Celsius for five weeks led to virtual elimination of epilepsy in test subjects. The cooling was performed three days after the injury itself. The impetus for the testing was previous work which found that mild cooling of the brain decreased the chance of death following a head injury. This study builds on that by suggesting that beyond saving the patient’s life, the cooling may also minimize one type of harmful side-effect of the head injury: epileptic seizures.

If you or anyone you know has suffered a brain injury which was caused by the negligence of another, please get in touch with the Chicago brain injury attorneys at our firm to see how we can help. The long-term harm from these accidents is significant and it is only reasonable that those who cause the damage pay for the consequences.

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