Nanoparticle Injections Could Revolutionize Brain Injury Treatment
Researchers are testing out the use of nanoparticle injections to treat brain injuries in a groundbreaking technique that is hoped to dramatically improve the recovery prospects for many victims of head trauma.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when a bump, blow or jolt to the head causes the brain to collide with the inside of the skull and disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. TBIs can also be caused by penetrative injuries such as bullet wounds. Depending on the severity of the injury, the consequences of TBI range from mild headache and temporary mental changes to severe, permanent brain damage and even death.
Symptoms of TBI typically fall into one of the following four categories:
- Cognitive (e.g., memory problems or difficulty concentrating)
- Physical (e.g., headache, dizziness or fatigue)
- Emotional (e.g., irritability or depression)
- Sleep (e.g., sleeping more or less than usual or difficulty falling asleep)
The severity of a TBI does not necessarily correspond directly to the apparent seriousness of the head trauma; even a relatively minor blow to the head may result in a major TBI in some cases. In addition, once the brain has been injured by an initial trauma, it is much more vulnerable to further injury if an additional injury occurs before the first has completely healed.
Secondary Injuries Cause Long-Term Problems
Much of the long-term damage that results from TBIs is a result of inflammation and swelling of the brain tissues that may occur as a result of head trauma. The inflammation is triggered by a toxic substance called superoxide, which brain cells release into the bloodstream when injured. Excessive levels of superoxide can overwhelm the brain’s natural defenses and disrupt blood flow in the brain.
A team of researchers at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine are testing a new technique that uses nanoparticals to neutralize superoxide in the bloodstream. In an animal study published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano, researchers studied the effects of injecting nanoparticles known as PEG-HCC to stabilize blood flow to the brain immediately after a head injury.
PEG-HCC is an antioxidant that bonds with the toxic superoxide particles, changing their chemical composition and transforming them into nontoxic particles. Researchers found that injecting PEG-HCC into the bloodstream after a brain injury could bring blood flow in the brain back to normal levels within minutes. As a result, they were able to prevent the cascade of secondary injuries that often occur as a result of TBI. While more research must be done before this technique becomes available for human TBI patients, researchers are hopeful that the technique could revolutionize TBI treatment methods and greatly improve patients’ chances of full recovery after brain injuries.
Legal Help for TBI Victims
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your medical expenses and other losses resulting from the injury. To learn more about pursuing compensation for a TBI, discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.