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New study could lead to first known treatment for brain injuries


Every year, 1.7 million people are affected by traumatic brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a contributing factor in almost a third of fatalities associated with injuries. Even when a TBI is not fatal, it can have life-changing effects on a victim’s emotions, ability to communicate, sensory processing and cognitive abilities.

Sadly, when people in Chicago sustain traumatic brain injuries, physicians can only stabilize the victim and prevent the injury from becoming more severe. There is presently no known treatment that can repair the damage of a TBI or reverse the associated health and behavioral effects. However, a study currently underway may lead to the first effective treatment.

Human hormone offers hope

Researchers hope to enroll more than 1,100 patients by the end of a current international study. The study is examining the effectiveness of a human hormone called progesterone in treating TBIs. The patients participating in the phase III clinical trial must receive the human hormone within 8 hours of the initial brain injury. Patients then receive injections of the hormone for five days following the injury. The study is double-blind, so doctors, patients and their families do not know which patients received placebos and which received progesterone.

Research shows progesterone may prevent the death of cells, contribute to neuron development and decrease swelling after a brain injury. Earlier trials found progesterone reduces TBI mortality by 50 percent and lowers the likelihood of disability for patients with moderate injuries. One patient, who was in a coma after sustaining a TBI, has shown significant progress in the six months since receiving treatment in the latest trial, although he does not yet know whether he received progesterone or a placebo.

TBI as a wrongful injury

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle accidents, object collisions and personal attacks. Some of these events may be unavoidable, but in many cases, they occur because of the negligence of one of the parties involved. When this is the case, Illinois law allows the injured party to file a personal injury claim within two years of the date of the injury.

When making a claim, a victim must show that the other person involved owed the victim a duty of care and breached the duty, resulting in a reasonably foreseeable injury. Victims may seek damages to cover expenses associated with the injury and less tangible losses, including pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life. Securing appropriate damages is essential, since many TBI victims must live with ongoing medical expenses, disabilities and lifestyle changes until an effective treatment is found.