The “Holy Grail” for medical professional working with traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims is a method to heal parts of the brain previously damaged. Up until now, most of the work of these teams was learning how to prevent further damage and maximize the strength of undamaged parts of the brain. For example, the increasing use of “brain cooling” procedures is seen as a way to prevent the cascade of brain damage the occurs even after an initial injury. Also, therapies used in recovery are mostly aimed at strengthening and rejuvenating parts of the brain previously undamaged by the incident–not necessarily “fixing” the components that were harmed. The actual regeneration of damaged brain tissue is a whole other matter.
All of this means,unfortunately, that TBI victims–particularly those with the most serious injuries–may struggle to ever to get their lives back exactly as they were before an accident.
However, medical researchers continue to break new ground which may offer more hope to those seriously affected by a TBI. In fact, as reported this week by Medical Express, new advances from researchers at the Sagol School of Neuroscience suggest that “it is possible to repair brains and improve the quality of life for TBI victims, even years after the occurrence of the injury.”
If true, this represents a great breakthrough in TBI research. The actual regeneration of the brain is an incredibly complex process that requires expending significant bodily energy to build new blood vessel and connections between brain neurons. If possible for milder TBI, it is likely that the lessons learned can be expanded to help even those with the most severe brain damage.
New Medical Advances
The findings were published in PLoS ONE recently and revolve around a treatment known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The researchers claims that the therapy can repair brain function in those with mild TBIs. Importantly, in the past this therapy was not wholly endorsed by other bodies and professionals. But the researchers suggest that this latest evidence should cause interested parties to re-evaluate the effectiveness of HBOT.
The particular research project at the crux of this paper was one involving patients who suffered the effects of mild TBI even years after the initial injuries. Many trial patients experience headache, concentration problems, and had other impairments. The participants were split into two groups, with one group receiving several months of HBOT therapy. The therapy itself was a combination of sessions where patients breathed 100% oxygen in high pressure environments.
According to researchers, those in the treatment group showed significant improvements while those in the control group did not. The improvement apparently existed on two levels: as an assessment by the patient themselves as well as in brain activity detected in scans.
As one doctor explained, “[P]atients experienced improvements such as memory restoration and renewed use of language.These changes can make a world of difference in daily life, helping patients regain their independence, go to work, and integrate back into society.”
See Other Blog Posts: