University of Pittsburgh researchers are currently testing the safety of hypothermia as a treatment for children with traumatic brain injury. Hypothermia treatment has been shown to be effective for stroke and hypoxic ischemia in children, but its effectiveness in treating children with traumatic brain injuries has not yet been studied. Hypothermia decreases inflammation, excitotoxicity (excessive neurotransmitters released with injury that damage tissues), and cell death. Researchers plan to involve 50 children in the study which is expected to be completed shortly. Lead researcher David Adelson, said that for the study patients are cooled within six hours of injury.
The researchers said that children are being treated like mini adults and put through assessment tests that were designed for adults. So now, they are also trying to find better ways to assess children after traumatic brain injury, such as how they function, walk, talk, speak, and perform other daily activities. Dr. Adelson said that younger children's brains don't deal with trauma as well and they do poorly on standard tests than school-age children. Hence, the researchers have developed a new assessment tool for young children, the "Infant Face Scale", which has been, until now, effective in better assessing infants following traumatic brain injury.