As brain injuries have ascended to the spotlight in the recent years of American culture — and, in particular, American sports culture — researchers have sharpened their gaze on learning more about these injuries and working to better treat and prevent them.
A number of those researchers work at the University of Pennsylvania, where the Center for Brain Injury and Repair is one of the world leaders in brain injury research and sparking cultural change in sports and society.
Public concerns about concussions and other brain injuries has triggered increased awareness among the military and professional sporting leagues, as well as sports at even elementary school levels. It’s becoming more obvious that these injuries can lead to long-term brain damage, including early onset dementia, depression and other complications, but less abundant are effective treatments for these problems.
But one of the more complex factors of brain injuries is that the effects can vary widely. While one person suffering from a mild brain injury may ultimately have no lasting effects, others may suffer from permanent damage despite incurring a similar injury.
Many brain injury scientists have been working in obscurity for decades only to find their body of research now garnering immense interest from the general public. But much work remains to be done, according to those experts. Penn’s research team consists of a wide range of professionals from many disciplines in hopes that a multidisciplinary approach will provide more answers and a more comprehensive picture of brain injuries.
Fortunately, the increased attention is leading to more grant and donation funds, making research more feasible — and hopefully producing answers at a faster rate.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Brain injuries still mysterious, but research is building,” Stacey Burling, Jan. 4, 2013