Saturday, June 15, 2024

Health Headlines: Breakthrough in treating brain tsunamis

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CINCINNATI, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 1.7 million Americans are treated for traumatic brain injuries each year. The main causes are stroke, car accidents, bad falls, and assault. But did you know a hard hit to your head can also trigger a brain tsunami? There’s no treatment for it, and it can kill off brain cells one by one in a matter of days. Now, for the first time, researchers have found a way to stop it and possibly save more brain tissue from dying.

A tsunami — a massive wave of destruction — but it doesn’t just happen on the coast – it can happen inside your brain. These brain tsunamis – or spreading depolarizations – happen in people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

“We’re finding out is a likely culprit in more and more diseases than we ever thought imaginable. It’s kind of like the hidden iceberg below the surface,” explains neuroscientist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Jed Hartings, PhD.

After a TBI, brain cells can begin to short-circuit and die. For the first time ever, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found a way to diagnose and test tsunamis to prevent more.

Laura Ngwenya, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, UC Health says, “This has actually been revolutionary, in terms of how we think about how we treat brain injury patients.”

Dr. Ngwenya is using the same technology they currently use to monitor TBI patients but with a new algorithm.

“We place an electrode strip on the surface of the brain, and this allows us to detect seizure activity, but it also allows us to detect these abnormal brain tsunamis,” Dr. Ngwenya explains.

Researchers found the drug ketamine can stop the wave. Also, doctors can monitor blood pressure and body temperature to prevent spreading depolarizations. Brain tsunamis, or spreading depolarizations, can happen continuously for up to a couple of days in traumatic brain injury patients or continue on and off up to two weeks after a severe injury. There is currently no standard of care for spreading depolarizations but doctors hope after a larger clinical trial, they will be able to create one.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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