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Brain tsunamis' are clue to helping victims of major head injuries
Date:12/7/2011

ete evidence that brain tsunamis can cause further damage to the brain in the few days after a major injury. This is significant, because they have a direct link to poor recovery in patients. Of course, the end goal is to take the results of this study and, longer term, develop new treatments for this type of injury. This potentially may mean finding a way of blocking these killer waves as they are happening.'

Principal investigator Jed Hartings, PhD, research assistant professor in the department of neurosurgery at the UC College of Medicine and director of clinical monitoring for the Mayfield Clinic, emphasized the historical nature of the findings: 'Spreading depolarizations were first discovered in animals almost 60 years ago and for a long time were thought to not occur in the human brain. We didn't begin studying them in patients until recently, partly because we didn't know how,' he said. 'Now we know that depolarizations occur abundantly and are important to patient outcomes. This is the question we set out to answer when we started COSBID.'

He added: 'Our ability to monitor and understand what happens in the brain after a severe injury hasn't advanced significantly in decades. The brain is like a black box, but the process of spreading depolarizations now gives us a window into that box. Being able to treat patients based on specific cellular brain events we can measure and monitor would be a great advance.'

Dr. Hartings's Cincinnati co-investigator was Lori Shutter, MD, director of neurocritical care at the UC Neuroscience Institute.

When a brain injury occurs, nerve cells in the brain, which act like batteries by storing electrical and chemical energy , malfunction and effectively short-circuit. Because all nerve cells in the brain are connected, this depolarization causes all the neighboring cells to short-circuit as well; this subsequent leakage of precious electrical charge moves like a tsunami through the brai
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Contact: Katherine Barnes
katherine.barnes@kcl.ac.uk
44-020-784-83076
King's College London
Source:Eurekalert

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