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Study provides treatment hope for long term effects of brain trauma
Date:11/2/2010

Brain damage continues to develop and evolve for months after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), revealing a potential target for treatments to improve brain trauma, new research led by the University of Melbourne, Australia has found.

The study funded by the Victorian Neurotrauma Initiative is published in the latest issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (JNM).

Around 400,000 Australians have a disability related to traumatic brain injury with cognitive, psychiatric and epileptic problems the most common symptoms. The major cause of TBI is motor vehicle accidents. Other causes include falls, sports injuries and violent crime.

Professor Terry O'Brien, Head of the University of Melbourne's Department of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and a senior author on the paper said the results provided new insights into the progressive nature of how the brain changes following injury.

"Patients who suffer brain injury commonly experience long-term neurological and psychiatric problems, including memory and thinking difficulties, anxiety and depression, and epilepsy. Currently there are no effective interventions to reduce the incidence or severity of these problems," Professor O'Brien said.

"We have demonstrated that changes in brain structure and function after traumatic brain injury are dynamic and continue to progress and evolve for many months. This opens up a window of opportunity to give treatments to halt this damage, and therefore reduce the long term neurological and psychiatric complications that many patients experience," he said.

Using powerful imaging techniques--positron emission tomography (PET) fused with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-- on animal models researchers have been able to better understand the long-term functional and structural changes that take place after traumatic brain injury.

The study revealed widespread decreases in brain functioning in specific regions of
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Contact: Rebecca Scott
rebeccas@unimelb.edu.au
61-383-440-181
University of Melbourne
Source:Eurekalert

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