Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), such as concussions, result in more than 2.8 million emergency room visits per year, and are a major source of concern in sports like football. They can dismantle circuits in the brain, leading to short- or sometimes long-term cognitive disability, leaving the brain improperly wired. For National Traumatic Brain Injury Month, the BIO5 Institute highlighted BME researchers' work to better understand these major causes of death and disability.
BME assistant professor Elizabeth Hutchinson is using advanced imaging approaches to develop and understand novel markers of these brain changes.
“TBI can be very challenging to diagnose and research because the brain’s response to trauma can involve so many different types of pathology: anything from large hemorrhages to inflammation to the reorganization of brain connections," Hutchinson said. "It’s difficult to determine these outcomes in the living brain."
Fellow BME assistant professor Kaveh Laksari utilizes injury biomechanics to understand the underlying processes of TBI and modeling to minimize TBI in contact sports. He hopes his research will help to prevent and diagnose this condition.
While mild TBI may not require specific treatment aside from rest, more severe cases may require surgery to remove blood clots or pools, repair skull fractures, or relieve pressure between the brain and skull.
Several BIO5 members are addressing various aspects of patient care and quality of life after these more invasive procedures, including BME assistant professor Vignesh Subbian. Together, BIO5 researchers are making momentous strides towards improving patient quality of life as well as preventing disease altogether.