Whether in the context of sports or the military, stories about traumatic brain injuries have become more frequent over the past several years as attention given to these injuries has grown. In October 2012 the AAAS and the Dana Foundation held a joint event on current TBI research and potential treatments, as part of the public series Neuroscience and Society.
Speakers at the event included Capt. James L. Hancock, M.D., Deputy Commander of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan, and researchers Col. Jeffrey Ling, M.D., Ph.D., and Dana Alliance member Ann McKee, M.D.
AAAS reports from the event:
The key medical reason to quickly identify TBI is “second-impact syndrome,” Ling said. When a patient sustains a second head injury before fully recovered from the first, he explained, “it leads to an exaggerated response and has a 50% mortality rate.”
Because so much remains unknown about the brain and the complex effects of TBI, “for us to try to grapple with all of the variables is impossible,” McKee said. She believes that improved treatment will come through understanding the physical changes in the brain that occur at the microscopic and molecular levels when the brain is subject to trauma. And that understanding is only beginning to emerge.
For a detailed summary of the event, read the AAAS article, “Researchers Gain New Insight on Traumatic Brain Injury, but Treatment Remains Elusive.”
– Ann L. Whitman