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Traumatic brain injury: the missed harm in traumatic spinal cord injuries?

Tuesday 10 November 2020 3:57pm

Congratulations to Otago researcher Associate Professor Deborah Snell, who has won funding from the Health Research Council to research the co-occurrence of traumatic brain injury in people who experience a traumatic spinal cord injury.

When a person is admitted for acute care, the usual brain injury indicators used by diagnosticians can be invalidated because of the interacting effects of both injury types, which can result in missed cases.

Co-occurring traumatic brain injury has been associated with increased length and cost of traumatic spinal cord injury rehabilitation, smaller gains from admission to discharge, and added difficulties with psychosocial functioning, adjustment and return to productivity. The real impacts are difficult to quantify because traumatic brain injuries are often missed and rates in New Zealand are unknown.

Snell will spend the next twelve months conducting a follow-on health delivery study with the aim of developing a diagnostic algorithm that can capture the occurrence of traumatic brain injury and help us to understand the impacts on outcomes for New Zealanders who sustain a traumatic spinal cord injury.