MedPage published an interesting interview this week with a researcher who is working on new methods to help those who have suffered a brain injury. While a bit “wonky,” the story is worthwhile, because it explains the current state of the research as well as a few areas where experts are exploring in order to make new advances.
The doctor explains that current treatment methods involve use of both “devices” and therapies. The devices are a range of tools to keep the patient alive and to prevent further complications. They include things like intracranial pressure monitors, ventilators, and more. The professional explains that the “therapy is directed towards reducing intracranial pressure that comes from brain swelling, and prevention of secondary brain injury that can occur in the setting of hypoxemia, hypotension, fever, seizures, etc.”
One unique treatment option that the doctor is working on now involves a membrane “resealing agent.” The goal is that agent will allow the blood brain barrier to re-develop after an injury. Essentially, this works by using a polymer to fix damaged cell membranes. In addition, this same polymer helps to reduce brain swelling. More research is needed but this polymer may prove very important in brain injury treatment in the future.
In addition, the doctor is testing an near infrared light therapy. The therapy may improve cognitive function in TBI victims. Research is ongoing in mice to determine what works, what doesn’t, and why. However, preliminary investigations have found that use of these near infrared therapies work by affecting modulation of the brain’s inflammatory response, ATP generation, oxygen radical signaling, and others including possibly neurogenesis.”
The doctor also cautioned to read brain injury research and advances carefully. That is “brain injury” is a catch all term, it actually refers to problems which are quite varied in scope. For example, blast injury brain damages may be far different than dealing with a concussion or a contusion. Treatments that work for one may not work for the other. Dealing with these details is part of the challenge, and those following possible advances should understand those factors which determining whether any particular treatment might work in their case.
In addition, there are many more “good ideas” out there than there is funding and opportunity to explore them in more detail. Of course all medical discoveries are moved forward slowly, as it is important that they are not rushed at the detriment of patients. Yet, a lack of commitment to conducting the necessary research into new advances slows even further the time before possible treatments are actually available to patients.
Resources Following a TBI
This lack of funding for proper research mirrors the problem faced by many families who have loved ones trying to recover from a brain injury. Even the currently available treatments are not provided to all patients, often because of a lack of financial resources. Many different therapies come with high costs, and most insurances limit what specific option they make available to patients.
That is why it is incredibly important for whose brain injury was caused by the negligence of another to pursue accountability and redress (sometimes via a brain injury lawsuit). It is only fair that those who cause an injury help to ensure the one affected is able to recover as fully as possible. This accomplished by providing the necessary resources so that no stone is left unturned when it comes to therapies which might improve functioning and overall quality of life.
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