Approximately 50,000 Canadians sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) each year, and TBIs are the leading killer and cause of disability of Canadians under the age of 40, according to the Brain Injury Society of Toronto.
Brain injuries are a spectrum condition; they range from mild to severe, with varying degrees and types of symptoms. In many cases, the damage to the brain is permanent. Fortunately though, TBI treatment research is making headway, and there are a few promising advancements.
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Stem Cell Treatments
Stem cell treatments show promise for TBI patients, particularly when used in combination with other treatments. Researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) found that administering human umbilical cord blood cells (hUBCs) and granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), a growth factor, to lab animals had therapeutic benefits.
G-CSF promotes the self-repair of neural cells and hUBCs suppress inflammation and promote cell growth, but more research is needed. Stem cell clinical trials are ongoing, and readily available treatments ideally will be forthcoming.
Pharmaceutical Treatments for Brain Injury Victims
Neuroprotective drugs are a complicated class of pharmaceuticals that work to stimulate or improve the healing and repair of brain cells. For instance, NNZ-2256, “[a]n analog of a naturally occurring small-molecule neuro-protectant,” may help reduce long-term damage to the brain after a traumatic brain injury occurs, explains defense specialist Allison Barrie in a 2012 report appearing on FoxNews.com.
There are numerous neuroprotective pharmaceuticals currently being studied and emerging that may benefit TBI patients, some of which are listed below.
- Cyclosporine – This drug may result in an 80 percent reduction in neural damage, according to animal studies, explains Brainline.org.
- Substance P antagonists
- SUR1-regulated NC channel inhibitors
- Cell cycle inhibitors
- PARP inhibitors
Advancements in Imaging Tests
Imaging tests are instrumental in the diagnosis, treatment and research of TBIs. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy has been very useful for TBI patients because it provides the doctors with biochemical information about the brain, including neural and axon health.
In addition to MRI, two new techniques are proving very helpful for TBI patients.
- Optical coherence tomography – This test allows doctors to assess blood flow around the brain, particularly close to the outer edge of the brain. It provides doctors a quick snapshot of the brain’s functioning.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging – This test uses traditional MRI techniques but takes a functional approach and looks at the time course for blood flow in certain parts of the brain, explains Brainline.org.
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Help for Brain Injury Victims
Governments around the globe are taking part in an initiative to kick brain injury research up a notch. In July 2011, the European Commission, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Institutes of Health formed a collaborated organization: The International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury
Research. Their objective is to work “together to improve outcomes and lessen the global burden of traumatic brain injury by 2020.”
If you or your loved one sustained a brain injury in Ontario, you might be eligible for benefits or compensation to cover your treatment, disability and other injury-related expenses. To discuss your options, contact our lawyers at Preszler Law today for a free legal consultation: 1-800-JUSTICE®.