Researchers tackle neurotrauma caused by car crashes

February 3, 2014 by David Stacey

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at The University of Western Australia are working to limit the spread of serious nerve damage, often caused by car crashes, to minimise disability and enable better recovery.

Associate Professor Lindy Fitzgerald, from UWA's School of Animal Biology, said that following accidents causing injury to a person's central nervous system, the damage spread beyond the area of impact, affecting surrounding nerve tissues.

Professor Fitzgerald is leading a team of UWA researchers investigating the issue of 'spreading' or secondary . Supported by the Neurotrauma Research Program of Western Australia (NRP), an initiative funded by the Road Safety Council, the research is also relevant to stroke, experienced by more than 5,000 Western Australians each year.

"When the central nervous system is injured, the damage spreads, involving nerve tissue that survived the original impact," Professor Fitzgerald said. "In the days, weeks and months after injury, cells continue to die and nerve function deteriorates.

"Limiting this 'spreading' damage would help to preserve cells, along with a significant amount of function. In the , this could mean the difference between partial sight and complete blindness."

Each year in WA alone, around 600 people suffer severe traumatic brain injuries and around 50 people are left paralysed by spinal cord injury. Many central nervous system injuries are caused by road crashes.

The researchers have shown that when a nerve is wounded, the ongoing damage is likely due to the spread of excess calcium and oxidative stress in surrounding . By using multiple inhibitors to block from entering cells, the damaging oxidation process is reduced, preserving the structure and function of the nerve. The findings were published recently in Neuropharmacology and presented at the Australasian Neuroscience Society annual meeting in Adelaide.

"So far we have conducted these studies in the laboratory, but the results may have important implications for the treatment of patients who suffer neurotrauma," Professor Fitzgerald said.

Explore further: Research offers hope in new treatment for spinal cord injuries

Related Stories

Stem cell scarring aids recovery from spinal cord injury

October 31, 2013

In a new study, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show that the scar tissue formed by stem cells after a spinal cord injury does not impair recovery; in fact, stem cell scarring confines the damage. The findings, ...

Scientists identify clue to regrowing nerve cells

November 7, 2013

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a chain reaction that triggers the regrowth of some damaged nerve cell branches, a discovery that one day may help improve treatments for ...

Spinal nerve connections develop using simple rules

January 9, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Repairing spinal injuries with stem cells may be a step closer thanks to scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Plymouth. A new study, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, employed novel ...

Recommended for you

New insights on how cocaine changes the brain

November 25, 2015

The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published November 25 in Cell Reports. Through experiments conducted ...

Can physical exercise enhance long-term memory?

November 25, 2015

Exercise can enhance the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, a process called adult neurogenesis. These newborn brain cells play an important role in learning and memory. A new study has determined that mice ...

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.