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Brain injury

Hopes for quicker diagnosis for ‘silver trauma’

Project launched to increase speed and accuracy of TBI detection in older people



A new research project has been launched to investigate the means to better and more quickly diagnose ‘silver trauma’ – traumatic brain injuries in older people. 

New statistics show that in the United States, more adults aged over 65 have sustained TBI than since 2013. 

The rates of mild head injury and subsequent mortality have doubled in the past decade, the statistics reveal. 

Now, Carilion Clinic, with Virginia-based BRAINBox Solutions, and the University of Pennsylvania, are to investigate new ways to diagnose brain injuries in the elderly in a quicker and more efficient way than ever before.

The geriatric TBI study will enrol 300 patients with head trauma and 70 patients as controls. 

Each patient will be followed for a year, and patients will be enrolled over a two-year period. The final 100 patients enrolled will be followed until their final year. The study will last three-and-a-half years.

Backed by a $3.5million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, the research will be in two phases. 

The first step is enrolling patients and designing a new panel of blood markers and cognitive testing to identify brain injury in all elderly patients, even those with cognitive impairment such as dementia.  

Phase two will use phase one data to determine the tests’ accuracy.

The NIH-funded project is in partnership with BRAINBox but is not directly connected to the HeadSMARTII study in conjunction with BRAINBox. 

However, HeadSMART II is also investigating if biomarkers in blood can more accurately diagnose and treat mTBI, allowing for rapid diagnosis and prognosis at the bedside using a single device.

“I think the surprising piece when I talk to not only patients, but the community about the type of research we are doing is, most people don’t know that it hasn’t been solved yet,” explained Dr Damon Kuehl, vice chair of emergency medicine for Carilion Clinic and a co-principal investigator. 

“Elderly patients requiring acute care visits after evidence of suspected head trauma commonly undergo a computed tomography (CT) scan. 

“Despite most geriatric patients receiving this test, CT is very limited as a diagnostic or predictive tool in those TBI patients.”

BRAINBOX CEO Donna Edmonds said: “We are grateful for this additional funding, which provides us the opportunity to expand our technology, clinical and scientific evidence to this important population. 

“With this grant, we are one step closer to our goal of developing TBI tests for all patient groups.”


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