Cooling the Brain Helps Reduce the Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury

Professor Pankaj Sharma

Research conducted by Professor Pankaj Sharma and colleagues from the Institute of Cardiovascular Research in the School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway at the University of London found that cooling body temperature in adults following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may protect brain cells from death, and reduce the disability the result of brain injury.

Professor Pankaj Sharma said, “Lowering the body temperature to treat people with TBI is a controversial treatment, but one that our latest research has shown to reduce deaths and long-term injury. We have undertaken the largest such analysis of data on the use of Therapeutic Hypothermia and have found that patients have an 18 per cent better chance of surviving and a 35 per cent improvement in neurological outcome if they are given this treatment.”

The researchers studied 3,100 adults and 450 children with TBI. They found that cooling the brain to a temperature of 33 degrees Celsius for 72 hours, and then naturally returning the patient to a normal temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, is the most effective treatment.

However, Professor Sharma notes that, “Whilst cooling adults is effective at providing the best possible outcome, cooling children instead can prove fatal. In children between the ages of 3 months and 18 years, cooling provoked a 66 per cent increase in mortality.”

Read the study abstract here.

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