Scientists Hail Brain Injury Scanner

MRI Scanner Could Improve Treatment For People Suffering With Brain Injuries


The quality of brain injury treatment could be set to improve significantly thanks to a new MRI scanner, experts believe.

Purchased for £1.5 million as part of a joint initiative between Durham University and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the device has helped researchers discover more about how damage to a particular part of the brain can affect other parts of it, the Northern Echo reports.

The scanner has been located at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough since 2011 and has been used to test how volunteers coped with carrying out certain tasks when electrical signals were passed through particular parts of the brain, disrupting that area's function.

From this, the researchers were able to monitor how other parts of the brain responded to counteract this disruption, something it may have to do constantly in cases of patients who have suffered a neurological injury.

Dr Amanda Ellison from the university's Department of Psychology said: “The findings from this experiment represent a really important step in furthering our understanding of how different brain regions interact in order to bring about efficient and accurate behaviour in our everyday lives.”

Head of neuroscience at the hospital Phil Kane remarked: “I’m delighted with the benefits being brought about by the close relationship and collaboration between the university and the hospital.”

The benefits of the research may be numerous in helping neuroscientists understand which areas of the brain can be damaged without the injury causing permanent impairment - as the rest of the brain may find another way to carry out the functions associated with that area.

At the same time, it may identify which parts of the brain carry out tasks that cannot be completed if that area is not functioning correctly.

This may assist with legal cases to establish accurate settlement figures that reflect the likelihood of an injury affecting a particular area of the brain and the ongoing treatment and rehabilitation the patient needs.

It could also mean medical staff are better able in the future to devise recovery plans tailored to each particular patient in accordance with the specific location of the damage sustained by the brain.

Expert Opinion
This research is a very important step in the treatment for people suffering with head and brain injuries. We see, through our work with clients who have suffered serious head injuries, that they are complex and affect individuals differently - this scanner will hopefully help to identify the areas of permanent damage giving patients fast access to the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.

“It is very important that anyone suffering from an impact to their head gets medically checked out quickly, especially if they start to suffer from symptoms such as headaches or problems with vision.

“The speed at which people receive treatment for brain injuries can have a significant impact on their recovery, and in extreme cases can be the difference between life or death.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner