Mayumi Prins, PhD Professor and Basic Science Executive Council Member Director, BIRC Education Program
The project entitled “Cerebral Substrate Support After Traumatic Brain Injury” was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH to investigate the therapeutic potentials of alternative substrates after Traumatic Brain Injury in improving brain metabolism and behavioral recovery. Despite decades of intensive research there is still no effective treatment to promote functional recovery after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and at least 5.3 million Americans currently live with TBI associated disabilities. These chronic disabling impairments that impact independent living are associated with annual economic costs of at least $56 billion. There is an urgent need for novel research and different approaches to evaluate potential therapies for their impact on recovery after TBI. The aims of this project will provide the following information contributing to its impact on the TBI population. The experiments proposed in this grant will be the first to directly compare the effectiveness of alternative brain fuels in improving brain energy metabolism and functional recovery after TBI. Collectively this work challenges the current standard of care (maintaining plasma glucose levels) for all TBI patients and helps determine the optimal brain fuel with the goal of improving the lives of TBI patients and their families.
The project entitled “ Timing of Exercise in Concussed Rathletes” was funded by the Brain Injury and Neurovascular Pathologies section at NIH to address the effects of exercise on repeat concussions and determines when it is safe to resume activity in male and females. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects an estimated 3.8 million people per year with adolescent and young adults representing the population with highest injury incidence. The majority of the injuries are mild TBI (mTBI) or concussions. According to the CDC, sports related activities make up over 50% of concussion and mTBI with approximately 1/3 experiencing repeat concussions. Repeat mTBI (rTBI) is a growing concern for adolescents and young adults and occurs during a time of ongoing cerebral development. The current guidelines for athletes with concussions is to rest until symptom free and then start the return to play protocol. Mental and physical rest have been encouraged to reduce cerebral energy demands, prevent risk of additional injuries, and to avoid the presumably detrimental effects and symptom exacerbation associated with early exercise. However, the question of exercise after concussion has been revived by an increasing number of reports emphasizing the benefits of activity. What remains unclear is when can athletes with concussions resume exercise without exacerbating damage, impairing cognition or interfering with plasticity. The central objective of this grant is to determine the optimal time to rest before starting exercise as it relates to sex and activity level prior to injury. Collectively, findings from these studies will show that the brains of athletes are fundamentally different than those of sedentary individuals and these differences contribute to different responses and recovery from rTBI. These studies will not only provide important effects of exercise on the brain in regards to adolescent brain health, but will also provide guidance for return to activity and play guidelines for all concussed adolescents and young adults.