Traumatic Brain Injury: Research and Resources Despite declining participation in organized youth sports like football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and ice hockey, the number of emergency-department visits resulting from sports-related concussions has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, according to a study from the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island. A review of national ... Research in Brief
Free
Research in Brief  |   November 01, 2010
Traumatic Brain Injury: Research and Resources
Author Notes
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   November 01, 2010
Traumatic Brain Injury: Research and Resources
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB.15132010.32
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB.15132010.32
Research
Sports-Related Concussions
Despite declining participation in organized youth sports like football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and ice hockey, the number of emergency-department visits resulting from sports-related concussions has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, according to a study from the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island.
A review of national databases of emergency department visits in the period 2001–2005 found 502,000 visits for concussions in children aged 8 to 19 years. Of those, 65% were for older children (14–19 years old) and 35% were for younger children (8–13 years old); approximately half of all the visits for concussions were from sports-related injuries. The numbers of sports-related concussions doubled over this time period, and increased 200% for the 14- to 19-year-old age group, yet the participation levels for organized youth sports decreased 13%.
“Experts have hypothesized that this [increase in sports-related concussions] may be due to an increasing number of available sports activities, increasing competitiveness in youth sports, and increasing intensity of practice and play times,” said Lisa Bakhos, lead study researcher. “However, the increasing numbers may also be secondary to increased awareness and reporting.”
The full study appears in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics.
Scarless Brain Surgery
Surgeons at the School of Medicine at the University of California-San Diego and the University of Washington Medical Center have discovered a new way to perform brain surgery without removing the top of a patient’s skull. In the procedure, transorbital neuroendoscopic surgery (TONES), surgeons operate through a patient’s eye socket to treat a variety of advanced brain diseases and traumatic brain injuries.
To access the brain, the surgeons make a small incision behind or through the eyelid. A tiny hole is then made through the paper-thin bone of the eye socket to reach the brain. This pathway permits repairs to be made without lifting the brain. TONES also protects the optic nerves, the nerves for smell, and the carotid and ophthalmic arteries.
“This approach has opened a new field of brain surgery,” said study investigator Kris Moe, chief of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and professor of otolaryngology at University of Washington Medical Center. “The advantages to this transorbital approach are many, including reduced pain and decreased recovery time.”
TONES is performed at only two institutions in the world: University of California-San Diego Medical Center and the University of Washington Medical Center. The findings appear in the September 2010 issue of Neurosurgery.
Head Trauma and CTE
Professional athletes with repetitive head trauma may be more prone to developing a motor neuron disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Researchers used neuropathy techniques to study specific proteins (tau and TDP-43) in brains obtained at autopsy from 12 former athletes. Eleven had been professional football players or boxers; one was a hockey player.
All of the athletes had a newly characterized disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with dementia developing after many years and a history of repeated concussions. In addition to having CTE, three of the athletes were affected by fatal motor neuron disease, with profound and progressive muscle weakness and deterioration for several years before death. The brains from these athletes showed specific patters of tau and TDP-43 deposits, distinct from those of sporadic ALS.
“The study has broad implications, not only for understanding the potential risks to professional and non-professional athletes in many types of collision sports, but also for people who serve in military combat,” said Raymond A. Sobel, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuropathy and Experimental Neurology, which published the study in September 2010. “Anyone who experiences repetitive, seemingly mild, head injury or concussion might be at risk for developing a brain disease later in life.”
Rewiring Damaged Brains
Researchers from Case Western Reserve University and Kansas University Medical Center are developing microelectronic circuitry to guide the growth of axons in a brain damaged by an exploding bomb, car crash, or stroke. The goal is to rewire the brain’s connectivity and bypass the damaged region.
The theory is that as a brain develops initially, it naturally establishes and solidifies communication pathways. During the month following a brain injury, the brain strives to redevelop these pathways, thus creating a window of opportunity to guide distant neurons to connect with one another. Researchers believe that prompting repeated communications between these distant neurons in the weeks after an injury will induce long-reaching axons to form and connect.
Researchers have been building a multichannel microelectronic device to bypass the gap left by injury. The device, called a brain-machine-brain interface, includes a microchip on a circuit board smaller than a quarter. The microchip amplifies signals (neural action potentials) produced by neurons in one part of the brain and uses an algorithm to separate these signals (brain spike activity) from noise and other artifacts. Upon spike discrimination, the microchip sends a current pulse to stimulate distant neurons and connect the two brain regions.
The research initiative has received a $1.44 million grant from the Department of Defense.
Resources
ASHA’s main webpage on TBI offers links to dozens of policy documents, articles, fact sheets, research reports, and outside resources related to speech-language and hearing treatment of TBI and cognitive-communication disorders. The following is a sample of the information available.
ASHA Policy Documents
Research
Information for Audiologists
Multicultural Issues
Articles in The ASHA Leader
Additional Resources
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
November 2010
Volume 15, Issue 13