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AUT UNI Logo blkScientists to tackle traumatic brain injury

AUT UNI Logo blkScientists to tackle traumatic brain injury

AUT University researchers have joined an international team of 38 scientific institutes and 60 European hospitals aiming to create better and more targeted treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The 30 million euro (NZ$50 million) project will collect and analyse data in more than 5000 patients across Europe and more than 1300 participants from New Zealand, and will run for six years from October 2013.

The Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research (CENTER-TBI) project is part of a global collaboration established by the European Commission, the National Institutes of Health in the US and the Canadian Institute of Health Research. Seldom has such a large collaboration been implemented by funding agencies.

Professor Valery Feigin, Director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences (NISAN) at AUT University, says, “Recent research that we carried out in New Zealand shows TBI rates are six times higher than previously thought, and urgent actions are required to stop this silent epidemic and improve outcomes. We look forward to using our findings to further global understanding of TBI and help develop better treatment.”

Professor Feigin and Dr Alice Theadom, Senior Research Fellow at NISAN, will use data from their recently published epidemiological paper Incidence of TBI in NZ: A Population Based Study to examine rates of hospital attendance for TBI in rural and urban areas.

They will also look at moderate and severe cases of TBI in New Zealand to compare outcomes among people who had a CT scan and those who didn’t.

The international collaboration will use new approaches to prognostic modelling developed by Professor Nikola Kasabov, Director of the Knowledge Engineering & Discovery Research Institute at AUT University, to create personalised strategies for improving TBI outcomes.

TBI is called the “silent epidemic” because early and late effects are often disabling, even years after injury. In survivors, disability results in high socio-economic costs. In low and middle income countries incidences of TBI are increasing at an alarming rate. Despite many advances in medical care, outcomes for patients with TBI have changed little over the past 20 years and doctors do not yet fully understand the disease.

Treating TBI caused by accidents, falls or violence is challenging because there are no universally accepted evidence-based guidelines and treatment strategies vary between countries.

CENTER-TBI is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development, and coordinated by Professor Andrew Maas from Antwerp University Hospital (Belgium) and Professor David Menon from the University of Cambridge (UK). The project’s launch in Antwerp, Brussels on 11 and 12 October 2013 was attended by 80 experts from Europe, China, America and Australia.

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