Combat Injuries Research Could Help Thousands Of Serious Head Injury Victims

by N Glover - Date: 2010-10-03 - Word Count: 560 Share This!

It is a sad fact of life, but many of the most rapid advancements in medical treatments come from the battlefield. Military research has always had a financial advantage over civilian research, but thankfully, the military doesn't keep all the good stuff for themselves. Now, new research into serious head injuries caused by IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blasts and other battlefield injuries is filtering through and could be used to help civilians who have suffered similar types of injuries themselves.

The latest research has resulted in the development of a brain monitor that fits inside a backpack and can instantly transmit massive amounts of electro-physiological data anywhere in the world. The new pack, which can be used in all conditions, is being hailed as a breakthrough in head trauma care, allowing neurophysicians to look at images of a trauma injury in minutes, rather than days. It will also allow those treating the victim at the scene to send data to specialist surgeons who will then be able to recommend the best course of treatment to minimise long-term damage to the brain.

The power of algorithms

But it's not just the hardware that could help brain injury victims get more accurate treatment. The pack has necessitated the development of advanced algorithms, and these enable the system to show which victims are more likely to suffer late-onset conditions that sometimes accompany head trauma such as PTSD, depression and even schizophrenia. This will allow specialists to predict more accurately what symptoms a head trauma patient may develop and also to plan an effective and preventative treatment method. While the algorithms cannot replace the skills of an experienced clinician spending time with the victim, it could enable potential problems to be flagged early, giving the clinician valuable data to work with.

The most common battlefield head injuries are blast-related and closed head trauma - where the brain is not actually penetrated but can receive a blow that causes swelling. This is also one of the most common types of civilian head injury, so the technology that is about to be deployed in some of the world's most dangerous war zones certainly will have a role to play in civilian life as well. The current military version being tested will cost between $50,000 and $100,000 and has already undergone extensive trials at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. The unit consists of a cap that is used to monitor the brain's activity, a control box and a link to a computer that allows the data to be transmitted via the Internet. It is this portability that has excited neuroscientists, making the unit one that can be used anywhere yet still have the capability to link up to specialist neurological units and specialists across the world.

Long term treatment planning

While the unit has the capability to give clinicians an instant view inside the victim's head and assess the primary injuries, it is in the treatment of the long-term effects that the unit may prove to be most useful. By incorporating the algorithms developed by the team, clinicians will be able to predict far more accurately what possible symptoms a victim will suffer from months or even years later. For such a small unit, this new monitor packs a hefty punch in the fight against long-term brain trauma and could change the way primary care is handled immediately after a serious head injury.

Serious injury lawyers with unrivalled expertise. Specialist services in accident claims for spinal injury, brain injury, head injury and motorcycle accidents from the UK's leading specialised injury law practice. Contact: Neil Glover at Tel: 0800 61 66 81n
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