Severe head injury may commonly be faced by many individuals. A study undertaken by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, England revealed that cooling the brain may help treat severe head injuries. Prior studies suggest that babies who are starved of oxygen at birth, are much less likely to suffer brain damage if they receive cooling treatment.
In this study the authors conducted an experiment, to determine if brain cooling can prove beneficial in adults too. This study aims to improve the condition of patients with head injury, in six months after receiving the treatment. Therefore, they conducted a major study comprising of 1,800 intensive care patients. These patients suffered with an extreme pressure in their skull after a brain injury.
To conduct the study the patients were probably divided in two groups equally. While half the patients were provided with the usual treatments like sedation and ventilation, the other half were treated with the usual treatment and a cooling treatment. The authors then examined these patients for a period of six months, and compared their ability to cook, shop and work of the two groups.
Dr Anthony Gordon, lead author of the study, clinical senior lecturer at Imperial College London and critical care consultant shared, “More than 50,000 people a year are hospitalised as a result of severe head injury. We already know that in the short-term, brain cooling helps reduce swelling and pressure in the skull but we want to see whether it increases patients’ chances of being able to lead healthy and active lives in the long-term.”
When a brain injury takes place the brain may swell like a bruise; this deprives it of the required oxygen and lessens the blood flow to the brain. What the cooling treatment does is that it puts the brain to sleep and this makes the brain require less oxygen.
It should be noted that in order to see positive results, the cooling treatment should last for at least 48 hours. During the cooling treatment, cooled fluid is injected into the patient. Moreover, frozen pads are placed onto their back and chest, as this will drop their temperature from the usual 37°C to somewhere between 32°C and 35°C.