Professor David Menon of the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and Professor Andrew Maas of the University Hospital Antwerp will be in charge of a Europe-wide investigation into the causes of and treatments for traumatic brain injury (TBI). More than 60 hospitals and 38 scientific institutes, including six from outside Europe, will participate in the £25 million initiative over the next six and a half years.
Over a million people in Europe who suffer traumatic brain injuries every year could benefit from a study led by world-renowned Cambridge and Belgian neuroscience centres.
Professor David Menon of the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and Professor Andrew Maas of the University Hospital Antwerp will be in charge of a Europe-wide investigation into the causes of and treatments for traumatic brain injury (TBI).
TBI comes with a huge personal and social cost, resulting in more deaths in young adults than any other cause, and for those who survive, the lifelong consequences can often be devastating. It is a growing problem in low-and middle-income countries – in India one person dies every 10 minutes due to TBI, and this will treble by 2020.
Detailed data from over 5000 patients recruited from across Europe, including from Addenbrooke’s, will be analysed during the project. This will provide a unique overview of the scale of the problem of TBI in Europe, examine differences in treatment and pinpoint best practices in how TBI is identified and treated.
New diagnostic approaches will be used, including advanced techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and genetic analysis, to better understand the disease. Addenbrooke’s will be utilising its state-of-art research MRI scanners, sited next to the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit, to facilitate safe imaging of patients at early stages after TBI.
More than 60 hospitals and 38 scientific institutes, including six from outside Europe, will participate in the £25 million initiative over the next six and a half years.
Professor Menon said: “We are delighted to receive this grant from the European Union so we can tackle the silent epidemic of TBI by identifying the best ways of treating people with this debilitating disease.”
“Despite many advances in care, we need to achieve further improvements in clinical outcomes for patients with traumatic brain injury. Different approaches to treatment are used across Europe and many gaps still exist in our understanding of TBI. Exploring variations in clinical pathways and management of individual patients will allow us to identify best practice overall, and enable us to match patients to treatments.”
Professor Maas, chair of neurosurgery at University Hospital Antwerp, said: “We can do a lot, but not enough, so this grant will enable collaboration on a huge scale to gather enough evidence to make a real difference to victims of TBI and their families.”
James Piercy, who was treated at Addenbrooke’s for TBI following a car crash, said:
“This is great news. Brain injury is a massive problem and the effects are hugely varied. Any research that can help us understand more about outcomes and develop new treatments has to be welcomed. The team at Addenbrooke’s are amazing and I am very grateful for the doctors and nurses there that looked after me.”
The official launch of the study takes place in Antwerp on 11 and 12 October and will be attended by 80 top experts from Europe, China, America and Australia. The study forms one pillar of an ongoing global International Traumatic Brain Injury Research initiative, which is also being supported by research funding in the USA, Canada, and other countries.
10 FACTS ABOUT TBI:
- One in every 200 people each year are affected by TBI in Europe and the US.
- TBI is often caused by road accidents, falls or violence.
- Men are more susceptible to TBI than women.
- TBI can cause major physical disability, problems with mental functioning, and psychiatric problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- In the UK, between 10,000 and 20,000 people sustain a severe TBI and are admitted to hospital in a coma.
- Ten times that number require admission to hospital following TBI. The mild version of TBI makes up 10 per cent of attendances to Emergency Departments each year.
- Even patients with mild TBI who are seen in Emergency Departments and subsequently discharged may suffer several months of disabling symptoms.
- The annual costs of TBI in Europe are estimated at £27.3 billion a year.
- Road traffic accidents, one of the most major causes of TBI, will likely rank seventh in the causes of death world-wide by 2030.
- In Europe and the US there is increasing concern about the impact of mild TBI during both amateur and professional sport, and about the chronic effects of TBI, which may predispose to dementia in later life.