Outcomes - Brain Swelling
In Australia over fifteen thousand people are admitted to hospital each year with a head injury. About 1:20 die and for every death there are many survivors who suffer long term disability. It has been known for some time that many deaths following a head injury are due to lack of oxygen and swelling of the brain within the tight confines of the skull. The present treatments of brain swelling include either reducing reducing the need of the brain for oxygen (induced coma) to during the crucial early period after injury, or removing large pieces of skull bone so that the brain can swell without causing further injury. These treatments are often not effective, they are complicated and do not treat the cause.
Researchers have now identified many of these toxins that cause brain swelling and are seeking ways of blocking their harmful effects. Research supported by the Neurosurgical Research Foundation has identified agents which may block these damaging pathways. The next step will be to conduct clinical trials in patients with severe brain injury.
Treating brain swelling actively by the limited means currently available has reduced brain injury mortality by at least twenty percent. A breakthrough in treating the underlying cause of brain swelling will reduce the present mortality for severe brain injury substantially and improve the outcome of those who presently survive.