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Penn's CBIR in the News

 

November 20, 2013

Penn Team Develops Blood Test To Signal Long-Term Damage From Concussion

There is no drug that can fix the damage done by a concussion, local NPR affiliate WHYY Radio reports. About 20 percent of concussions lead to lasting problems but, until now, there hasn't been a way of predicting that. University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed a blood test to identify when concussions will lead to long-term problems. Results are preliminary but promising. Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery at Penn, said the team, including Robert Siman, PhD, research professor of Neurosurgery, has found a protein present in the blood of individuals who had concussions and suffer from long-term cognitive problems. "We think that with more extensive damage, there might be a release of this protein from the brain into the blood," Smith said. "That will tell us those individuals who might have had more damage and therefore have more cognitive dysfunction." The Los Angeles Times also covered the new study.

Penn Medicine News Release

WHYY Story

Philadelphia Inquirer

Los Angeles Times Article

September 4th, 2013

Thinking Ahead: The Future of NeuroscienceThinking Ahead: The Future of Neuroscience - State Representative, Chaka Fattah, Huff Post

Chaka Fattah convened more than 40 scientists, researchers, and advocates at Philadelphia's University City Science Center to discuss the latest innovations in neuroscience research with Dr. Philip Rubin, Principal Assistant Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

 

September 2nd, 2013

Prospect of Long Trial Helped Drive NFL Settlement

Thursday’s surprise $765 million settlement between the NFL and its former players, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer, gives the players $675 million to compensate retirees of any era who have documented brain damage. Still, the settlement is not likely to push the issue out of the spotlight, according to Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair.

 

August, 2013

Teaming up for Neuroscience Innovation

Following a briefing on the current state of neuroscience research across the United States, held in Philadelphia's University City Science Center and hosted by Congressman Chaka Fattah, we had the opportunity to take the morning's featured speaker, Dr. Philip Rubin, Principal Assistant Director for Science at The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), on a whirlwind tour of brain-related research here at Penn Medicine.

 

July 3rd, 2013

What Will The World Be Like 150 Years From Now? Discovery News - By Jesse Emspak, Discovery News

In a Discovery News article looking at the way the world will operate in the future, the article says that a century and a half from now, typing on a keyboard might look as old fashioned as writing with a quill pen. Instead, humans will more likely connect directly to computers via their brains. That will involve some kind of "wet" connection, said Douglas H. Smith, M.D., professor of neurosurgery and director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Brain Injury and Repair. Wet connections use engineered nerves or nerve-like materials to link organic material to computer material. Such interfaces would allow for directly controlling a virtual keyboard. "Imminent access to the Internet will also transform education -- all the world's history will be just a nerve impulse away," he said. "Such immediate availability of information will change the way we feel about family and friends. A loved one on the other side of the world could essentially go through the day with you."

June 6th, 2013

Multiple Concussions Have Changed the Life of One California Teen - By Jamie Goldberg

Douglas Smith, MD, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair and professor of Neurosurgery, is quoted in a Sports Illustrated article about repeat concussions in teen athletes. While there are no studies on the long-term effects of repeated concussions on young athletes, evidence from studies of NFL players indicate that the risks may be greater than players—or their parents—realize.

June 1, 2013

The War Inside My Dad

In a Reader’s Digest story about a WWII veteran’s blast concussion during combat and related long-term issues, Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair is interviewed. “TBI can almost manifest as emotional instability, an inappropriate emotional response.” A concussion can cause irreparable damage by rupturing axons, which extend from brain cells and transmit electrical current. “Once an axon disconnects, it cannot grow back together,” Smith said. “The damage initiates long term degeneration.”

April 9, 2013

Local/State Hearings to be Held in Philadelphia on NFL Concussion Lawsuits

More than four thousand plaintiffs are preparing for a showdown with the NFL who they say in the past promoted violent play, but down played the risk to players. Penn’s Doug Smith, MD, Director of Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair, says at best the science is in its infancy and there are many unknowns among the most basic why some players suffer long-term trouble, while others with multiple concussions do not. The center is in the midst of a study of a hundred former retired NFL players.

January 4th, 2013

Brain Injuries Still Mysterious, But Research is Building - By Stacey Burling, Inquirer Staff Writer

A front page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that brain injury researchers, including a cadre at the University of Pennsylvania, are lifting the veil [on brain injury], and what they're seeing is already "dramatically" changing American sports, said Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery, who heads Penn's Center for Brain Injury and Repair. Scientists are only beginning to unravel why most who suffer mild traumatic brain injuries seem to recover just fine while some have lasting problems; or why misshapen proteins associated with dementia develop in some brains after injury but not in others. They don't know how to fix the damage. This is giving Smith and the 25 senior investigators who work with him at Penn plenty to do. Penn uses a multidisciplinary approach that brings together neurotraumatologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, bioengineers, neuroscientists, neuropathologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, and emergency medicine doctors.

 

October 18th, 2012

The Unlikely Man Behind Football-Slamming Documentary "Head Games" - By Chris Silva, Chicago Buisness

For decades, the concussion problem has been overlooked in professional sports and in particular football, Crain's Chicago Business reports, in a story about the producer behind "Head Games," a documentary featuring experts from Penn Medicine. Douglas Smith, MD, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair and professor of Neurosurgery, has been working in traumatic brain injury for 20 years. In an interview, he stresses the importance of a remove-from-play protocol in youth sports and the need to have a diagnostic test that can be administered by coaches and administrators who lack extensive medical training. “We need something akin to a pregnancy test: something that's easy to do, obvious right away,” Smith says. “We are working on biomarkers for traumatic brain injury, but I don't know if you'd see them on the sideline. You might have to wait a certain number of hours (for results). So you really need something that's objective to screen people.”

 

January 4th, 2013

Brain Injuries Still Mysterious, But Research is Building - By Stacey Burling, Inquirer Staff Writer

A front page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that brain injury researchers, including a cadre at the University of Pennsylvania, are lifting the veil [on brain injury], and what they're seeing is already "dramatically" changing American sports, said Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery, who heads Penn's Center for Brain Injury and Repair. Scientists are only beginning to unravel why most who suffer mild traumatic brain injuries seem to recover just fine while some have lasting problems; or why misshapen proteins associated with dementia develop in some brains after injury but not in others. They don't know how to fix the damage. This is giving Smith and the 25 senior investigators who work with him at Penn plenty to do. Penn uses a multidisciplinary approach that brings together neurotraumatologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, bioengineers, neuroscientists, neuropathologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, and emergency medicine doctors.

 

October 18th, 2012

Iron Woman - Lini S. Kadaba, The Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles Penn Neurosurgery patient and traumatic injury survivor Candace Gantt. On Saturday, seven years and three months after her accident, Gantt, 55, will compete in the Beach2Battleship Ironman in Wilmington, N.C. - her first full Ironman, and the most grueling competition (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, 26.2-mile run) she has ever done. "Why her brain repaired itself to the extent that other people's don't, I don't know," says M. Sean Grady, MD, chair of Neurosurgery. He suspects that quick treatment made a difference and perhaps her level of fitness, "but I can't prove it," he says. A video recounting Candace's story is featured.

 

October 16th, 2012

'Head Games' film brings attention to brain trauma in sports - By Mars Jacobson, The Daily Pennsylvanian

The Daily Pennsylvanian discusses the new documentary, Head Games, noting that scientific research behind the causes and long-term effects of concussions is still in the infancy stage. That is where researchers like Douglas Smith, MD, and others at the Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair come in. “We have 25 professors studying traumatic brain injury,” said Smith, professor of Neurosurgery. “This is the biggest and oldest center in the country.” Smith and several other doctors at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine were involved in the “Head Games” documentary.“The movie is a wake-up call,” Smith said. “It doesn’t have enough information to be highly informative but this could be used as an educational platform.”

 

October 16th, 2012

Candic Gantt, Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair - VIDEO - cbr productions, in conjunction with Rob Parker of Parker Digital

Mom and athlete Candace Gantt was in a death-defying bike accident seven years ago. She competes in her first Ironman Triathlon on Saturday, October 20, 2012.

 

October 9th, 2012

140 Miles of Grace - By Kim Menard, Penn Medicine News Blog

On July 19th, 2005, Candace suffered a serious brain injury after being struck by a car while riding her bike. Following an extensive hospitalization and surgeries at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, she was back on her bike just 6 months after her accident.

 

September 21st, 2012

High school football saving brains as game goes on - By Daniel Trotta and Jo Ingles, Reuters

For decades jolts to the head were written off as "getting your bell rung" and considered part of the game. Now, concerns about serious brain injuries have penetrated American football culture and high schools are taking action, Reuters reports. A 2011 study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that survivors of a single traumatic brain injury in young adults can show changes in their brains years later, possibly leading to neurodegenerative disease similar to Alzheimer's.

 

September 8th, 2012

Research Continues On NFL Players’ Health Issues - By Pat Leob, CBS Philly

As the Eagles start their season, the NFL is giving unprecedented attention to players’ health issues, KYW Radio reports. The League gave the National Institutes of Health $30 million for research on injuries associated with football, like the study that Penn Medicine researchers are conducting on the aftermath of concussions. Leslie Shaw, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is part of a team trying to at least help track the consequences of those hits over time, by identifying biomarkers of the neurodegenerative disease, traumatic encephalopathy, which often strikes former players. Shaw says the study should help athletes, veterans and others too. “That’s why this is so important,” Shaw explained.
Communications placement

June 4th, 2012

Documentary film 'Head Games' focuses on brain trauma - By Jonathan Tamari, Staff Writer, Inquirer

Doug Smith has studied brain trauma for 20 years. For most of that time, the Penn professor of neurosurgery said, injuries such as concussions were called the silent epidemic.

 

May 16th, 2012

Brain Injury Study: A Single Season of Hits May Harm College Athletes' Ability to Learn - By Catherine Pearson, Huffington Post

Huffington Post reports that just a single season of contact sports can take a toll on college athletes' ability to learn, according to a new study. "This study shows there's not a huge effect overall -- there's not a dramatic effect pre- and post-season," said Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair, who was not involved in the new study. "But there is a small effect in a subgroup of individuals. It raises the question, is there a selective vulnerability for certain individuals? For example, a genetic predisposition?"

 

May 16th, 2012

Brain damage from IED blasts and football concussions is similar, study showss - By David Brown, Washington Post

Soldiers exposed to roadside bomb blasts and athletes who have suffered repeated concussions show the same long-lasting changes to brain cells, a new study reports.

May 11th, 2012

Junior Seau's death sharpens concussion focus - By Kris B. Mamula, Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times

The suicide of 43-year-old former National Football League linebacker Junior Seau on May 2 has reignited a debate about the connection between repeated concussions sustained in contact sports and long-term emotional problems such as depression and even suicide, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. “What we need is a voice of reason,” said Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair. “There’s a lot of confusion about professional football players.” The paradox of repeat concussion is that not everyone who suffers the injury goes on to develop emotional and dementia-like problems or winds up taking their life, Smith said.

May 4th, 2012

Seau's death re-ignites debate on violent hits - By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Staff Writer

The news of Seau's death came hours after debate erupted over the NFL's decision to suspend four players for their roles in a bounty program with the Saints. Seau's death in California, after apparently shooting himself in the chest, according to police, echoed the recent suicides of other former NFL players, including ex-Eagle Andre Waters and former Bear Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest last year and asked that his brain be sent to researchers studying the longterm effects of brain injuries.

March 6th, 2012

Severe Brain Injury Warrants Bold Moves - By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Early, aggressive treatment of patients with severe traumatic brain injury appears to be cost-effective compared with less aggressive approaches, an analytical model showed.

February 12th, 2012

Young athletes growing mindful of concussion danger - By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Staff Writer

The debate and discussion over concussions and their consequences have moved beyond the spotlight of professional sports. According to neurologists, that's a good thing.

February 10th, 2012

Stretched to the Breaking Point - Posted by Karen Kreeger for Penn Medicine News Blog

With this year’s Super Bowl setting a record for being the most-viewed show in U.S. television history, concussions – more technically, mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) – have probably been on many a mind this week. TBI has long been a leading cause of death and disability, with over 1.7 million cases in the US alone each year.

January 25th, 2012


A Smack Upside the Head: NHL and NFL concussions get the ink. But your head is on the line, too
by By Laura Beil, Photographs by Joshua Scott for Men's Health magazine

MATT MASTRANTUONO REMEMBERS A LOT ABOUT THAT SUNDAY LAST APRIL, BUT NOT THE CRASH. One minute he was guarding his man during an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Walla Walla, Washington, the disc sailing in his direction. The next thing he knew he was splayed on his back, trying to figure out why that strange guy was standing over him. Turns out, that guy was one of his best friends. "I didn't even know why I was on the ground," says Mastrantuono.

January 23rd, 2012

Kids' brain injuries can cause lingering problems for years, study finds by Linda Carrol of MSNBC

While conventional wisdom is that children have a great capacity to overcome damage from a severe traumatic brain injury, or TBI, because their brains are still developing and “plastic,” a new study shows that many may actually end up with some lasting deficits.

January 3rd, 2012

Dana Foundation Grant to Test Concussion Treatment for Athletes - Penn Medicine Announcement

Peter LeRoux, MD, FACS, associate professor of Neurosurgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was awarded a 3-year, $250,000 Dana Foundation Clinical Neuroscience grant, to conduct a study using branch chain amino acids to treat concussion in athletes.