Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries May Be Easier in the Future November 15, 2010.

There’s interesting news in the wind about a better way to treat brain injuries. Thank the Navy for this exciting research.

While the results from the project the Navy is planning to work on over the winter won’t be known for some time, the possibilities of their research making a difference to those withtraumatic brain injuries is truly exciting. The Navy hopes this will also help combat veterans handle any post-traumatic stress disorder. The ramifications this may have for non-military folk may open a whole new vista of medical treatments that would help accident victims. Traumatic brain injury is a very real concern when people have been involved in an accident where they have hit their head; no matter how inconsequential it may seem.

The initial idea behind this new computerized test is that it will eventually act as a tool, in an arsenal of many other tools, to identify mild brain injuries on location in the fighting theatre or other remote areas. The intention is that if mild brain injuries are caught earlier, the wounded may be allowed to recuperate and then return to battle.

Military personnel will have a thorough cognitive workup before they deploy, designed to act as a baseline for any field applications later should they sustain a head injury. The 20-minute evaluation was developed in the early 1990s by ImPACT Applications to assess and track concussions and subsequent patient recovery.

The workup is meant to be used as a companion tool, not to replace field medics with hands-on experience. Former hospital corpsmen will get focused training with the new program and will still do the physical exams and health histories. Further to their usual jobs, they will also evaluate wounded personnel for brain injuries, then complete a new assessment that includes what the next step should be in their recovery; either rehabilitation or evacuation. This new tool will also allow those with brain injuries to be pulled off the battlefield to regroup and recoup, rather than try to continue fighting with a traumatic brain injury.

The whole key to this new method to detect brain injuries is that cognitive testing will show subtle changes or injuries to the brain that could result in reduced or impaired performance. Those with concussion may suffer from headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, slower reaction times and short-term memory loss.

While this might be something non-military people could experience without too many consequences, the results of reaction timing impairment on the battlefield could be deadly. Because many of changes in the brain after a concussion – such as slower processing times – are not always detectable or noticeable, this new assessment tool hopes to catch problems sooner rather than later.

The number of mistakes a person could make as a result of a brain injury could be reduced with this new procedure, because early identification of a problem means they can get the treatment they need quicker. Even with a 50 percent to 60 percent assessment of the extent of a brain injury, this new tool is one more asset in diagnosing problems. The possibilities for using this for accident victims is especially hopeful for those who have been injured and know there is something wrong, but can’t pinpoint what it is. Again, it could be used as a tool along with a wide range of other methods to diagnose brain trauma. Earlier detection; earlier treatment – a win-win situation for many.