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Brain injury studies not all they seem?

I am always excited to learn about new treatments for brain or spinal cord injuries, particularly where treatments arise from randomly connected research, because they just go to show how fast science moves and what an amazing difference scientific progress can make to the lives of injured people.

Take this month’s issue of The Journal of Trauma, for instance, which publishes the results of a study that patients taking cholesterol-lowering statins when admitted to the hospital for a brain injury are 76% more likely to survive than those who are not taking the drugs. These patients also had a 13% greater chance of attaining high-quality recovery after 1 year. Perhaps we should all take statins – just in case! But then I read the warning published by the Institute of Medicine that treatments being used to treat psychological lapses from traumatic brain injury appear helpful but lack solid scientific evidence and I have to remind to look behind the headlines. The reality is that the statin findings come from an analysis of 520 patients aged over 65 who experienced moderate to severe brain damage. Those taking statins were 76% less likely to die; however, those who also had documented heart disease did not experience the same benefits and the only conclusion of the study is that this finding may simply direct researchers towards further research, for example, a clinical trial to see if statins administered in the emergency room to brain-injured patients who were not taking statins at the time of their injury could help them recover.

Jo is a Partner specialising in catastrophic personal injury and clinical negligence claims and is highly experienced in dealing with severe and complex brain injury claims.

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