To address long-term cognitive problems in this population, Dr. Green has focused her research on tailored treatments to offset this progressive deterioration.
"Many people with moderate-severe TBI are commonly unable to continue the same level of engagement in their work, school or social lives than they were before the injury," said Dr. Green. "This decrease in environmental stimulation puts them at a greater risk of increased atrophy in the chronic stages of their brain injury."
In the study, they found that all 30 patients with moderate-severe TBI showed a positive reaction to environmental enrichment. Those patients who reported greater amounts of environmental enrichment for example, reading, problem solving exercises, puzzles, physical activity, socializing at 5 months after their injury showed less shrinkage of the hippocampus (associated with memory functioning) from 5 to 28 months post-injury.
"Our focus now is how to incorporate environmental enrichment into long-term rehabilitation. We are exploring the key ingredients to environmental enrichment for off-setting atrophy, and also the benefits of combining environmental enrichment with other therapies. ," explained Dr. Green.
"Although the brains are showing negative changes, many patients are still showing recovery of their functioning in spite of it," said Dr. Green. "If we are able to offset the negative brain changes through the treatments we are developing, we may be able to very significantly improve patients' recovery and their ability to age well with brain injury."
Brain injury touches all parts of society, from construction workers and military personnel to people who experience moderate-severe TBI at home or in the community. Dr. Green is also studying the troubling problem of multiple concussions (mild brain injuries).
Dr. Green is a Canada Research Chair (tier II) in traumatic brain injury and head of the Cognitiv
|Contact: Melissa McDermott|
University Health Network