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Bubbles from head trauma may cause brain damage

The research journal Global Challenges published the results of a study that looks into a process called cavitation. Cavitation refers to the forming and collapsing of tiny bubbles, or microbubbles, in the cerebral spinal fluid of the skull as a result of head trauma. Michigan residents should know that cavitation may damage brain cells.

The study was conducted by Iowa State University researchers and supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research. To simulate the effect of cavitation in the brain, researchers submerged a 3-D cell culture platform in a small tank and used an ultrasonic device to cause the collapse of the microbubbles. They found that cavitation will negatively affect the function of the astrocytes, which are cells that help support and repair the central nervous system.

The explosion of microbubbles can send out a force of anywhere from 14.5 to 2,900 pounds per square inch. Past studies have shown how the bubbles that form on boat propeller blades can damage them. It’s not hard to see, then, that the same shock waves can damage brain tissue.

If doctors identified the areas where cavitation most frequently occurs after a brain injury, special helmets could be used as dampers. This includes not only military helmets but also football and other sports helmets.

A traumatic brain injury can lead to the loss of consciousness or confusion and dizziness in the short term as well as impaired thinking and sensation in the long term. TBI victims, whether they were in a car crash or slipped and fell on another’s property, deserve compensation for their injuries, including their medical expenses, lost wages and diminished capacity to work. This may mean filing a personal injury claim, which could be hard without legal representation. Victims may want to see a lawyer for a case assessment.

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