According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs in 1.7 million people annually in the United States. This condition encompasses a range from mild concussions with no long-term effects to severe brain damage leading to coma or death.
A groundbreaking study suggests that a collar could reduce the effects of mild traumatic brain injury or concussion in a preclinical study recently published on-line in the journal Neurosurgery. Research has shown that helmets have limitations in preventing some concussion injuries due to the brain’s ability to move within the skull upon impact. This phenomenon is termed ‘Slosh’, and its lessening may represent a new method of considering brain injury prevention.
Researchers found that by mildly blocking the jugular veins with a compressive collar, the blood volume in the brain was increased so that its movement, or Sloshing, was decreased. This resulted in a greater than 80% reduction in torn brain fibers when tested on rodents in a standard laboratory concussion model. The protection was thus internal rather than external to the body by using helmets.
Brain World recently caught up with Dr. Julian Bailes, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute, and one of the lead authors of the study. Along with David Smith, M.D., Joseph Fisher, M.D., they are certain they are on the right track for brain injury prevention.
Dr. Bailes explained that the motion of the brain inside the bath of cerebral spinal fluid is what leads to the tearing of fibers contributing to a concussion. Rotatory motion from a blow to the side of the head, face, jaw such as a hook punch to a boxer is a big component of this trauma. The term “sloshing” came from NASA where it referred to the liquid of rocket fuel. High velocity injuries such as explosions during wartime or hits in football, hockey and even soccer lead to concussions. Bailes noted that helmets do a great job with preventing major brain injuries like blood clots, skull fractures, scalp lacerations but have limited ability to prevent concussion injuries.
As we think of Muhammad Ali celebrating his 70th birthday, a champion in the midst of his struggle with Parkinson’s, soldiers on the modern day battlefield of high-tech explosions and many of our sports figures crashing into each other on their way to scoring a touchdown or goal, we hope Dr. Bailes and his team along with their designers find the appropriate material to use in making this innovative safety measure.