Traumatic brain injury research: the people behind CENTER-TBI

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Table of contents:
[00:45] Meet the researchers behind CENTER-TBI
[03:03] Mild traumatic brain injury research: Alice Theadom
[03:51] Empowering TBI patients: Shubhayu Bhattacharyay
[04:45] TBI statistics: Matteo Petrosino & Francesca Graziano
[05:58] Faster traumatic brain injury recovery: David Menon
[06:36] Biomarkers for better TBI care: András Büki
[07:32] Better traumatic brain injury diagnosis: Eric Thelin
[08:25] Traumatic brain injury facts: Marek Majdan
[09:24] Tailor-made TBI treatment : Cecilia Åkerlund
[10:07] Molecules for TBI treatment: Matej Orešič

Introduction to this episode on traumatic brain injury research

Traumatic brain injury research is booming, and that is just what is needed to transform post-concussion patient care. As Andrew Maas said in the previous Concussion Stories episode covering the CENTER-TBI 2022 convention: “We are failing patients”. 

As you probably know, research takes a long time to translate into new traumatic brain injury (TBI) protocols and therefore: better care for you. However, what you can get right now, is a look behind cutting-edge traumatic brain injury research and meet some of the researchers who dedicate their careers to setting post-concussion care right after having it go wrong for so long. This Concussion Stories episode is here to share their good energy with you!

Concussion Stories

[00:00 Melanie] Welcome to Concussion Stories, a Lifeyana podcast series filled with hope. I’m here to let you know that you are not alone in your concussion recovery. I’m Melanie and I spent more than six years experimenting, training and learning in order to heal myself from a very bad case of post-concussion syndrome. And today, I feel better than ever before.

In Concussion Stories we dig deep while discussing hopeful stories of recovery, as well as the hard stuff in the messy middle. If you’re struggling to focus, be sure to take breaks. Down in the description of each episode, you can find a table of contents, in case you want to skip ahead. Let’s dive right in. 

Meet the researchers behind CENTER-TBI

Meet the researchers behind CENTER-TBI

[00:45 Melanie] Welcome to today’s episode. We will be meeting some of the researchers behind CENTER-TBI. As you may remember from multiple previous episodes, CENTER-TBI is one of the largest traumatic brain injury research projects worldwide. 

Traumatic brain injury and concussions

TBI means traumatic brain injury, and concussions and post-concussion syndrome are medically called traumatic brain injuries. So that is why CENTER-TBI is of special interest to us. 

Changing brain injury care

Now, the reason I wanted to make this video is to support you. If I tell you that I’ve been to a convention where I met all of these researchers who are really devoted to making a change in traumatic brain injury care, it’s so hard for you to imagine that they are fellow human beings who have their own motivations to help us in their own unique ways. 

So I decided I wanted to ask several of them, why they do what they do, and how they hope to make a difference for patients with traumatic brain injuries. 

You have control over your recovery process

Sometimes, when you are in the middle of the process, as a patient, it can feel like no one is helping you and no one is changing that. And yes, honestly, for you today, maybe nothing will, not with regard to the medical help you’re getting. But with regard to what you can do, and how you choose to influence the way you see your recovery process and your progress, that is what you have control over and no one can take these choices away from you. 

That is why I wanted to make this video: to give you a bolt of good energy from people who are working to help you even though it’s not directly for you. And that even if you can see it, there’s always hope. 

Noise intolerance symptoms?

So this is a compilation of videos that I made at the CENTER-TBI convention of 2022. And it’s absolutely not a study of quality. I’m not able to do that. I need to arrange someone to help me with that next time. But also, there are a lot of background noises. So be prepared for that and switch down your volume if you’re having noise intolerance. And with that, let’s start this episode.

Mild traumatic brain injury research: Alice Theadom

Mild traumatic brain injury research: Alice Theadom

[03:03 Alice] My name is Alice Theadom and I’m a professor of brain health at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. I got involved in the mild TBI space many years ago, about 12 years ago now. 

Lingering concussion symptoms

We were doing a study where we were looking at how many traumatic brain injuries of all severities occur, and the impact that that has. And I was really surprised with the people who identified us with a mild injury, how many problems many of them were still experiencing some time after their injury occurred. 

Speed up post-concussion recovery for patients

We expected that most of them would have recovered within a few days. And so I wanted to give those people a voice, I wanted to find out why some of them were having problems and some of them were recovering well. And what we can do as clinicians to improve that recovery and speed things up.

Empowering TBI patients: Shubhayu Bhattacharyay

Empowering TBI patients: Shubhayu Bhattacharyay
Shubhayu Bhattacharyay

[03:51 Shubhayu] Hi, my name is Shubhayu Bhattacharyay. I’m a PhD student at the University of Cambridge in England, and I study applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning to decode traumatic brain injury disease courses in the ICU. 

Traumatic brain injury and mental health

What I’ve seen clinically, is brain injury – by threatening our memory, our self-efficacy, and our identity in some cases – it very much can threaten the things that make us human

And in that early stage, because there’s a lack of information about outcomes, and there is a lot of uncertainty, we see that this threat to humanity, this threat to individuality, is on an unimaginable scale. 

Empowering TBI patients

So my goal is to use methods in information science that provide more information, that provide more therapeutic choice to families and to survivors themselves.

TBI statistics: Matteo Petrosino & Francesca Graziano

TBI statistics: Matteo Petrosino & Francesca Graziano

[04:45 Matteo] I’m Matteo, a statistician in Milan and I’m working on CENTER-TBI projects. I’m very happy to do this, because I am a math and statistics lover, but actually when I find myself working on these kinds of projects, I also have the chance to make my work practical and pragmatic. At the end of the day, I try to help patients.

Changing traumatic brain injury patient care

[05:25 Francesca] I’m Francesca Graziano. I’m a researcher at the University of Milano. I’m a biostatistician, so I solve the numbers. It’s difficult for us to see what patient care looks like. We are working on helping the patients in a different way. So not interacting with the patients, but with the numbers. We try to use the best ways to find robust results.

Faster traumatic brain injury recovery: David Menon

Faster traumatic brain injury recovery: David Menon

[05:58 David] I’m David Menon, and I’m from Cambridge, UK. Clinically I’m an intensivist. In terms of research, I’m a neuro-trauma researcher interested in all aspects of traumatic brain injury. 

Prevention & personalized brain injury treatment

I would like to reduce the number of patients who get a TBI, that’s probably as a member of the public and informing policy development. And once you have a TBI, the aim is to achieve as complete recovery as quickly as possible, using treatments that are most appropriate for that individual patient.

Biomarkers for better TBI care: András Büki

[06:36 András] My name is András Büki. I’m a professor of neurosurgery at Ӧrebro University in Sweden. I am primarily working with biomarkers, and my hope is that biomarkers can be a game changer in creating better patient care. 

How biomarkers can help TBI care

Biomarkers can help with actual decision making and decision supporting algorithms, which will help general specialists who are not specialists in treating brain injury patients provide better care. We have to lead in this kind of reorganization of care to solve this problem, and we have to organize some kind of concussion clinic.

Better traumatic brain injury diagnosis: Eric Thelin

Better traumatic brain injury diagnosis: Eric Thelin

[07:32 Eric] My name is Eric Thelin, and I am a neurology resident doctor at Stockholm Karolinska University Hospital and I’m also an associate professor of experimental neurology, at the Karolinska Institute, also in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Target therapy & tailored treatment

What I hope to achieve with my research is a more personalized, targeted therapy for people. I also hope to achieve better traumatic brain injury diagnosis, so that very early on, whether it’s a mild TBI or more severe TBI, we can tier therapies and tailor specific treatments very early on. With better TBI diagnosis, we can also know which patients will develop different types of problems down the road and we can potentially treat those issues early on.

Traumatic brain injury facts: Marek Majdan

Traumatic brain injury facts: Marek Majdan

[08:25 Marek] My name is Marek Majdan and I’m from Slovakia and I work at the University in Trnava. I keep track of how many traumatic brain injuries occur in which countries. What are the populations mostly at risk? What are the main causes? And how are the trends going over the years? 

TBI prevention is the best treatment

We are trying to look at groups in the population that are at risk and how they are at risk. In the end, post-concussion patients will benefit from this, because the care can be tailored to specific populations. So this is how I can contribute to patients despite not being a physician or a clinician as such. I think this is important, because the best treatment for TBI is prevention.

Tailor-made TBI treatment : Cecilia Åkerlund

[09:24 Cecilia] I’m Cecilia Åkerlund. I’m a medical doctor, and an anesthetist in training. I work at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, in Sweden. I focus my research on finding subgroups of patients who behave differently in the clinic. I hope that we can use these groups to see if we can provide tailor-made treatment for these groups. 

Living a normal life after TBI

It inspires me to do this work when you meet patients with a TBI for the first time in the ICU and then you meet them a few months or a year later, and you realize they’re having a completely normal life, or almost a normal life. Maybe not as before but…

Molecules for TBI treatment: Matej Orešič

Molecules for TBI treatment: Matej Orešič

[10:07 Matej] My name is Matej Orešič. I’m a Professor of Biomedicine in Ӧrebro University. I’m not a medical doctor or working directly with the patients, but I work with CENTER-TBI to identify small molecules that can detect the severity of the disease from the blood. We also aim to predict patient outcomes, and predict which TBI patients need to have a CT

Improving patient outcomes

Our plan is that, maybe through these biomarkers that we have been setting up, and then evaluating in the clinic, that we will then improve the patient outcomes.

What do you take away?

[10:50 Melanie] Thank you for tuning in to yet another Concussion Stories episode. This was part two of a small series of episodes about the CENTER-TBI convention that took place in September-October 2022. The next episode will be covering my experiences, and my observations, of the convention in order for them to be available to you so that they can help you move forward in your recovery. 

Leave your comment below

[11:17 Melanie] Now, I would love to hear from you. What do you take away from this episode? Is there something that you can apply to your life right away? Head on over to lifeyana.com and leave your comment now. Or you can leave it below this video.

And if you want to hear and read more Concussion Stories, actionable steps and inspiration, be sure to subscribe to the Lifeyana email list while you’re there, so that you never miss out on new materials we constantly make for you.

If you want to support this podcast, head on over to patreon.com/concussionstories. Thank you for listening to this concussion stories episode by Lifeyana. May you be well and may you be happy.

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