Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex damage to the brain resulting from physical injury. Most cases of TBI are mild and as such may go undiagnosed. Despite underreporting, the numbers are staggering, with the NIH estimating 2.5-6.5 million Americans live with TBI.
Following stabilization of the initial injury, rehabilitation is the only accepted mainstream treatment for TBI. Lasting consequences of TBI can involve multiple systems of the body. The autonomic system can be involved, and dysautonomia is reported to occur in 20% of TBI cases. It is more common following severe injuries and in younger patients.
Neuroinflammation and Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI induces a state of neuroinflammation that is believed to contribute to the degree of functional deficit following the injury. Stem cell therapy is a potential means of reducing TBI-induced neuroinflammation. A recent publication demonstrated the beneficial effect of reducing neuroinflammation with stem cells.
Activation of the CB2 receptor has also been shown to reduce TBI-induced neuroinflammation. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 85 naturally occurring chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Unlike better known cannabinoids like THC, CBD produces no psychogenic effects.
Progesterone and DHA
Progesterone is another potential method for reducing post-TBI neuroinflammation. Progesterone suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokine and reduces microglial activation. Progesterone metabolites also have beneficial effects upon the brain.
Some progesterone metabolites are GABAergic, meaning they activate the GABA system. This can reduce the excitatory state in the brain following TBI, potentially providing additional benefit.
Recovery from TBI involves improving neuroplasticity – nerve cells in the brain must form new connections, facilitating restoration of function. DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid, has been shown to increase brain derived growth factor (BDGF). This substance fosters new connections between nerve cells and can play a role in neuroplasticity.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is an exciting new treatment modality that allows focal stimulation of regions of the brain with magnetic pulses. Early results show promise in helping patients recover from TBI through the use of TMS treatments.
Finally, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is another treatment that may potentially help patients with TBI. HBOT may benefit recovery from traumatic brain injuries as it is thought to increase oxygen delivery to damaged areas of the brain that otherwise lack sufficient perfusion to allow the tissue to heal.
If you are interested in more information on the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injury at Autonomic Specialists, please contact us at (949) 247-8877 or through our web form.