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Traumatic Brain Injury: No Longer a Death Sentence?

Two innovative treatments, one involving hormone therapy and the other a popular video game, are offering hope to those suffering from what would have, at one time, been a life-ending or life-altering traumatic brain injury (TBI).

TBIs cause a range of severe physical and mental disorders that can permanently and severely change the lives of both patients and their loved ones. They can cause permanent neurological, muscular and emotional trauma. According to the American Medical Association, recent studies have even proven a conclusive link between TBIs and clinical depression; concussion survivors may become up to eight times more likely to experience severe depression in the future.

Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that roughly two million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries every year - one every 15 seconds. Fifty thousand of these patients die, and 80,000 of them face long-term disability.

A Natural Cure?

In spite of strides in medical research in the past decades, scientists had not developed any consistently successful treatments for over 30 years. Thankfully, that may change in the near future. The National Institutes of Health is currently undergoing a large-scale, multi-million dollar study of the use of progesterone (a predominantly female hormone that is needed by the female body to stay healthy during pregnancy) to treat and lessen the impact of traumatic brain injuries.

Progesterone, like other neurosteroids, is produced and used in the brain, and is linked to the processes governing cognitive function and memory. The exact science of progesterone in the brain is not entirely understood, but animal studies show that progesterone can aid brain cell development and reduce trauma-related swelling.

The initial NIH study involved 100 patients with TBIs who were all given an IV infusion of progesterone within hours of the injury - there was a direct correlation between this treatment and a dramatic reduction in mortality and disability levels. The expanded follow-up study will involve about 1,100 patients over three years, and the medical community is anxiously awaiting the results.

A High-Tech Approach

Another promising approach to helping TBI patients takes advantage of readily available technology. In a case study of an injured soldier, Kansas State University researchers proved that regular use of Nintendo's Wii Fit video game system can markedly improve balance and aid in long-term neurological rehabilitation. The easy access, relatively low cost and interactivity of the Wii make it a more approachable option than other virtual reality rehabilitation systems.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often return from combat with TBIs, some of them undiagnosed in the field. The unique aspect of using the Wii system is that it can not only treat diagnosed conditions these servicemen and women are facing, but, by providing baseline readings that are stored over time, it may help to uncover previously unknown issues and treat them as well.

Many serious accidents and other TBI incidents cannot be prevented, but there is new hope that the most serious impacts can be more effectively treated in the coming years. If you or a loved one is suffering the lasting effects of a TBI, it is a good idea to consult an attorney in your area who has in-depth knowledge of the medical and legal aspects of these injuries. Bottom of Form

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