Because of the lasting consequences of brain damage, lifetime costs for care and rehabilitation for a person with a severe injury range from $600,000 to $1.9 million, according to NIH. Hayes and Brian Pike, an assistant professor of neuroscience, conducted their experiments with colleagues at the University of Texas Medical School before transferring their efforts to UF this past summer. The experiments showed that calpains switch on when calcium floods cells after traumatic brain injury. The activation of the calpains is associated with the death of brain cells and could contribute to the extensive atrophy and shrinkage of the brain seen after traumatic injury.
"In the past several years, there have been a large number of clinical trials testing treatments for brain injury that have shown no effect," said Hayes, a professor of neuroscience in UF's College of Medicine. "Researchers thought they had an effective therapy, but when they tried it, the people didn't get better. One reason may be that they didn't treat the patient long enough because the biochemical storm lasted longer than two days." To complicate matters, some level of calpain activity may actually be a necessary part of a "resculpting" effort that can repair damage.
"We may have to completely redefine our approach to therapy, because if you try to get in there too early and for too brief a time with a treatment, you might not block the damage that lies ahead," Hayes said. "But if you give a treatment for too long, you might block some of th
Contact: Victoria White
University of Florida