Researchers tackle neurotrauma caused by car crashes

February 3, 2014 by David Stacey, University of Western Australia

(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: Stem cell scarring aids recovery from spinal cord injury

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, ...

New hope for spinal cord injury patients

August 29, 2012
A new antibody could reverse the damage caused by trauma to the central nervous system, according to new research.

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 ...

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 ...

Glial cells assist in the repair of injured nerves

January 28, 2013
When a nerve is damaged, glial cells produce the protein neuregulin1 and thereby promote the regeneration of nerve tissue.

Research offers hope in new treatment for spinal cord injuries

May 3, 2011
Rutgers researchers have developed an innovative new treatment that could help minimize nerve damage in spinal cord injuries, promote tissue healing and minimize pain.

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

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.