A Healthier Wisconsin

New Strategies to Define Nervous System Trauma

Improving diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries, including concussions, and other forms of nervous system trauma

Full Project Name:Defining the Nature & Extent of Nervous System Trauma & Its Modifications: New strategiesPrincipal Investigator:Dennis Maiman, MD, PhD, NeurosurgeryCo-Investigator:Timothy B. Meier, PhD, Neurosurgery; Antje Kroner-Milsch, MD, NeurosurgeryAward Amount:$1,053,108
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

Wisconsin has a higher rate of per-capita brain injuries than the national average. Concussions are a significant source of nervous system trauma. While much continues to be learned about concussions, results to-date indicate that patients lacking appropriate care may develop post-concussion syndrome and potentially suffer long-lasting effects on functionality, learning and behavior. Even minor brain injuries, if repeated, may lead to the accumulation of nervous system trauma and cause permanent brain damage.

Recent research has demonstrated that mild traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, alter the metabolism of blood flowing in the brain. While this metabolism problem normalizes relatively quickly in most patients, abnormalities after one month are associated with more severe post-concussion symptoms. By better understanding this phenomenon, investigators aim to develop methods for using blood samples to diagnose the presence and severity of injury in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries, including concussions, as well as other forms of nervous system trauma.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Recruited two researchers to bring expertise to the Medical College of Wisconsin to advance this area of study
  • Established a database of existing data, analyzing inflammatory markers to help better establish the neurophysiological mechanisms of mild traumatic brain injury in patients that do not show typical recovery
  • Identified neuroimaging and blood-based biomarkers for the acute and chronic effects of concussion in adolescents and young adults
  • Identified the impact of pro-inflammatory cytokines and hemoglobin binding proteins after spinal cord injury, leading to a better understanding of inflammation after spinal cord injury, which can ultimately contribute to a better recovery and improved quality of life
  • Disseminated project findings, submitting 14 publishing efforts, conducting 16 presentations, and developing 22 collaborations
  • Garnered $4.1 million in additional funding

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