Health Watch — Head Injuries: Resuscitation

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Head injuries and other traumas that affect the brain can have devastating long-term effects. This week on Health Watch, we’ll talk about research into better ways of treating head injuries, as well as ways to prevent them.

One concern in dealing with head injuries is that oxygen deprivation will cause brain damage. Because of this, patients are often given 100 percent oxygen in hopes of preventing further brain damage. But researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that this may do more harm than good in infants and children. Even a minute of treatment with 100 percent oxygen results in more brain-cell death than breathing room air. The oxygen appears to damage cells that create myelin, the fatty tissue that protects nerve cells. Infants and children have less myelin than adults. Dr. Steven Kernie, the
UT Southwestern pediatrician and developmental biologist who led the study, says more research is needed into the best concentration of oxygen and other treatments to prevent brain damage.

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


July 2008

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