UCLA Brain Injury Research Center's TBI Education Program
The Mission of this Education and prevention Program is to educate children, teenagers, and adults about basic neuroscience, share facts about traumatic brain injury and instill habits to protect the brain from injury.
Please contact Dr. Mayumi Prins to schedule a visit to a classroom in the Los Angeles School District.
What is a TBI?
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the head arising from blunt or penetrating trauma or from acceleration-deceleration forces associated with any of the following: decreased level of consciousness, amnesia, other neurologic or neuropsychologic abnormalities, skull fracture, diagnosed intracranial lesions, or death.
Each year in the United States nearly one and half million people sustain a TBI. This is eight times greater than the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer and 34 times greater than the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS.
After a moderate or severe TBI, a majority of persons will experience significant physical, behavioral/psychiatric, psychosocial, cognitive, and/or medical problems. These are the kinds of problems that affect functional independence, living skills, vocation and psychosocial development, and these problems may extend throughout a lifetime.
Most TBIs are preventable. Because the sequence of events leading up to these injuries frequently follow a predictable pattern, points for intervention are possible. Prevention of these injuries often requires a multi-faceted approach involving education, enactment and enforcement of laws, and modifications in the environment where injuries occur.
Traumatic Brain Injury remains a difficult area for treatment, because of the inherent complexity of the brain as well as the large variety of injury patterns that are seen.
Present treatment protocols at UCLA involve state-of-the-art neurosurgical interventions to identify and remove severely damaged brain tissues, followed by a specialized program of neurointensive care in which the individual is closely monitored by a highly trained team of professionals. Electronic monitoring and repeated neuroimaging using several different imaging modalities allow us to conduct a intensive care program that assists as optimally as possible as the brain begins its healing processes.
At UCLA, our most impressive research finding is that after an acute period following injury, the brain enters a state of metabolic depression. Of the many mechanisms behind this metabolic depression (such a disconnection of nerve endings, cell death, reduction in energy need, and other factors) for tissue which is intact and appearing to be responding, this may simply be due to a lack of fuel.
Consequently our central research theme is to identify the metabolic destination of cerebral glucose taken up after TBI, and thereby find alternative metabolic pathways that are receptive to interventions.
We are looking forward to understanding how those interventions can be best tailored to enhance cellular and functional recovery, which in turn may lead to fundamental changes in the future of TBI patient management.