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New treatment offers hope for TBI victims

The Center for Disease Control estimates that between 1.4 and 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. The causes may include concussions in sports, war injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan, and motor vehicle accidents. Of those injured, an estimated 50,000 will die from TBI-related causes. However, a new treatment may offer hope for patients in Boston and across the country.

Researchers are optimistic about the results of a recent study, financed by the National Institutes of Health, involving the reproductive hormone progesterone. The clinical trial required patients to be infused with the hormone within 4 hours of their injury, and assessed their outcomes after 6 months. The results suggest that the hormone can reduce mortality and disability if administered right after a person sustains a TBI.

Researchers reported that, in a trial of 100 patients, the mortality rate after 30 days among brain-injured patients who received progesterone was just 13%, compared with 30% among the control group (which was given a placebo). Patients with moderate TBI who were given progesterone also experienced some improvement.

Doctors may be particularly excited by the results of this early data because it may contradict the conventional belief that the brain cannot regenerate cells. The treatment also offers a glimmer of hope in a wasteland area of medicine: no medications are currently approved for preventing the worst outcomes associated with serious brain injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, you may be facing years of medical care. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment from a neurologist and other medical specialists may be required. Sometimes the effects do not surface until weeks or months after the injury. In either event, you will likely face extensive costs associated with medical care, as well as lost income in the case of a wage earner. If you believe your brain injury was caused by another's negligence, an attorney can help you seek appropriate compensation.

Source: The New York Times, "A hormonal remedy for brain injuries is explored," David Tuller, June 18, 2012

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