Traumatic injury research working to improve the lives of citizens and soldiers

October 15, 2012

New studies presented today offer vivid examples of how advances in basic brain research help reduce the trauma and suffering of innocent landmine victims, amateur and professional athletes, and members of the military. The research was presented today at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

From the playing field to the battlefield, neuroscientists are gaining better understanding of what happens to the brain when it suffers traumatic injury or repeated hits. While the chronic learning and that often accompany such damage have been resistant to treatment, opportunities for effective early intervention to minimize long-term damage may be on the horizon. Scientists are also creatively applying new insights into how our brain senses odors, to better detect landmines and help both soldiers and civilians avoid becoming casualties of war.

Today's new findings show that:

  • United Kingdom soldiers who sustained blast-related traumatic brain injuries were more likely to have injuries in the brain stem and cerebellum than were civilian victims of non-blast traumatic brain injuries. Damage to the "white matter" in the brains of both groups could only be detected using an advanced form of (David Sharp, PhD, MBBS, abstract 315.04, see attached summary).
  • Frustrated by the lack of treatments for chronic neurological problems that frequently follow , scientists searched the brain for potential therapeutic targets and focused on inflammatory pathways. Now, they may have averted memory problems in brain-injured mice by giving them a widely available dietary supplement derived from tobacco that appears to suppress inflammation (Fiona Crawford, PhD, abstract 315.02, see attached summary).
  • Scientists report developing a with enhanced capacity to smell the explosives used in landmines, with the hopes they can be deployed to detect landmines in affected areas (Charlotte D'Hulst, PhD, abstract 815.09, see attached summary).
Another recent finding shows that:
  • Scientists using mice to study the effect of a single encounter with a model of military blast injury found the effects of blast winds alone—which can reach 330 miles per hour—appear sufficient to induce a brain injury. They also discovered that immobilizing the head may help reduce the severity of injury (Ann McKee, MD, see attached speaker's summary).
"These studies are particularly outstanding for how they take some of the most complex and cutting edge science of our time and translate it into practical applications that can have an enormous, visible impact on people's lives," said Jane Roskams, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, an expert on brain repair and neural regeneration. "That one day a mere mouse might save a child from losing a limb while walking across an old mine field, or a simple dietary supplement could make life more bearable for a brain injury victim shows why the field of neuroscience is attracting so much interest these days."

This research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations.

Explore further: Blast-related injuries detected in the brains of US military personnel

More information: www.sfn.org/am2012/pdf/press/InvisibleWounds.pdf

Related Stories

Blast-related injuries detected in the brains of US military personnel

June 1, 2011
An advanced imaging technique has revealed that some U.S. military personnel with mild blast-related traumatic brain injuries have abnormalities in the brain that have not been seen with other types of imaging.

Recommended for you

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

New study reveals contrasts in how groups of neurons function during decision making

July 19, 2017
By training mice to perform a sound identification task in a virtual reality maze, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have identified striking contrasts in how groups of neurons ...

0 comments

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.