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Scientists study brain trauma in lab

Scientists at Columbia University are using live brain tissue from rats to study how brain cells react to different traumatic brain injuries. The research could lead to better treatments for TBI patients in Oklahoma and across the United States.

According to the authors of the study, it is a common misconception that the brain bounces around in the skull during a traumatic event, such as a car accident. Instead, brain cells react like Jell-O in a bowl, conforming to the skull as it is jostled. Brain damage can occur from this stretching motion.

In order to better understand how the brain responds to trauma, Columbia researchers simulate brain injuries on slices of live rat brain tissue in the lab. They recreate the impact of car crashes, football tackles, falls and explosions and observe in real-time how brain tissues react. For instance, a tight pull of the brain tissue mimics the cell stretching associated with a car accident. Researchers document how far the brain tissue can stretch before tearing, how many neurons fire during impact and how many cells die during and after the accident. They hope to use their findings to design better protective gear and develop drugs that can stop brain damage after an injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBIs account for 30 percent of all injury-related fatalities in the U.S. each year. The most common causes of TBI are car crashes, sports-related impacts and falls.

TBI patients may require a lifetime of medical care. A victim of a brain injury that has been caused by the negligence of another party, such as an impaired or distracted motorist, may want to obtain the advice of a personal injury attorney on how to best seek compensation for the damages that have been incurred.