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California Hospital Participates in Brain Injury Clinical Trial

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

The complexity of the human brain has fascinated scientists for years. When the brain is injured, it can affect a person in a number of ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1.7 million brain injuries are reported in the U.S. each year. The majority of those injuries happen in falls, including slip-and-falls, and in auto accidents.

Uncertainty of brain injuries

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there is little that can be done for people who suffer a brain injury. There is no known treatment for brain injury and all medical staff can do is stabilize the person to ensure that further brain damage doesn't occur. It is also important for physicians to monitor the person's respiratory and circulatory systems to make sure that the brain is receiving enough oxygen.

The Brain Injury Association of America states that "no two brain injuries are exactly the same." This makes sense because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body. For example one part of the brain is connected to speech while another area is connected to a person's mood or personality.

Effects of injury on the brain

When someone suffers a traumatic brain injury, the effects of that injury can vary greatly. In addition to the injury, other factors such as the person's health, the area of the brain that was hit, the level of the impact and even how the injury occurred, plays a part in the severity of the problems a person experiences. These problems can include:

  • Problems with memory.
  • Difficulty in speaking.
  • Interruptions in heart rate.
  • The ability to walk or move arms.
  • Changes in mood.

Even the length of time that people experience symptoms from brain injuries can vary, making it hard for doctors to predict a healing period. Some of these symptoms may only last for a couple of weeks while others can stay for months, years, or remain permanent. Often the only thing that people can do is engage in different types of therapy and hope that they regain their former abilities.

Progesterone study

A California hospital is participating in a clinical trial that could lead to the first known treatment for brain injury. According to KABC, researchers believe that a human hormone, called progesterone, can be used to treat people with a traumatic brain injury. The hormone has properties that can reduce brain swelling, rebuild the blood-brain barrier and actually lower the number of brain cells that die.

The trial is being conducted at over 150 different sites and in 21 different countries. Participants are given either a placebo or the hormone and then researchers monitor their progression over the next six months. To be effective, the hormone must be given to the patient within eight hours of their injury and then be injected over a five-day period.

The promising potential of this hormone could give hope to people and their families who deal with traumatic brain injury. There is no doubt that a brain injury can have a traumatic impact on people. When the injury is sustained because of the negligence of a company or another person's actions, Contra Costa County victims and their families can find it helpful to discuss their legal options with a qualified attorney.