Health Watch — Head Injuries: Cooling

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about treating and preventing head and brain injuries. Even a mild head injury to a small child can have a lasting effect on future development. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are involved in a nationwide trial of a way to possibly prevent some of the long-term damage.

Doctors are testing hypothermia on children with head injuries. Patients will have their body temperatures lowered using chilled blankets or injected solutions. This hypothermia has been proven safe, and this trial will test whether it works to prevent damage. Dr. Pam Okada, a UT Southwestern pediatrician, says a child’s small skull doesn’t leave much room for the brain to swell when it’s injured. That swelling cuts off blood flow, which can cause brain damage. Chilling the body for a short time may reduce swelling and prevent brain damage.

Visit to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in pediatrics.


July 2008

Health Watch is heard Monday through Friday nationwide on ABC Satellite Radio. Call your local radio station and ask if they carry the program.