The Safar Center for Resuscitation Research is a key focal point of interaction among investigators studying traumatic brain injury (TBI) at the University of Pittsburgh. Through a network of collaboration led by McGowan Institute faculty member Patrick Kochanek, MD, director of the Center, a bedside-to-bench-to-bedside continuum has been developed to study mechanisms of secondary damage and evaluate novel therapies.
U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently suffering one of the most common and most troubling injuries—blast-induced traumatic brain injury—accounting for nearly 60% of all injuries to U.S. troops. Blast injury occurs when waves of pressure from an explosive device, like a bomb, grenade, land mine, or improvised explosive device pass through the body. Without body armor, the pressure can cause internal, air-filled organs to rupture, most often causing death. However, with body armor, many more are able to survive such a blast, but some with injury to the brain and extremities. Currently, an important treatment for severe blast-induced traumatic brain injury is a decompressive craniectomy, where a surgeon will remove part of the patient’s skull, allowing the brain to swell, and replacing the bone after the brain has recovered.
“The injuries that our troops are experiencing now are like none we have ever seen before. While the invention of body armor has saved many a soldier’s life by protecting his or her internal organs, the armor cannot adequately protect the soldier’s brain,” said Dr. Kochanek. “As a result, while many more will survive an attack with grenades, improvised explosive devices, or landmines than would have survived in previous conflicts, more will suffer various degrees of traumatic brain injury. It is our duty as researchers and clinicians to find the best way to treat such injuries.”
The Safar Center recently hosted a day long symposium for military and non-military researchers and clinicians to network and share valuable information.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC News Bureau (05/30/07)
Web Wire (05/30/07)
Pittsburgh Tribune Review (05/31/07)