Research mission launched to improve treatment of traumatic brain injuries

By Michael Woodhead

14 Mar 2019

Professor Melinda Fitzgerald

Neuroscience researchers have welcomed a Commonwealth government commitment to set up a Traumatic Brain Injury Mission.

The 10-year initiative will involve an initial investment from the Medical Research Future Fund  of $50 million for research into better methods of predicting recovery outcomes after a traumatic brain injury, develop new technologies and identify the most effective care and treatments.

“This nationally coordinated approach will bring together paramedics, emergency physicians, intensivists, neurotrauma specialists, neurologists, psychiatrists, neuroscience researchers, neuropsychologists and advocacy representatives from all states and territories to translate research into new treatments that work for traumatic brain injury, from mild to severe trauma to the brain,” said Federal minister for health Greg Hunt.

The Mission will be led by Professor Melinda Fitzgerald from the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute at Curtin University WA, and the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science.

Professor Fitzgerald, the Mission Lead, said current treatments for mild and severe traumatic brain injury or concussion were not consistent across the nation and that could contribute to why outcomes for patients were often so poor.

“There is currently a lack of evidence to inform the public and health clinicians about the best way to treat people with traumatic brain injuries. Our research will help to identify the predictors of poor outcomes following a traumatic brain injury and then develop feasible initiatives that will help improve the lives of these patients,” she said.

“This mission will enable us to gather the information we need in order to be able to understand which patients need more specialised care, to be able to understand and predict and give patients and their families some kind of idea as to how they’re going to go.

The Mission would also inform new treatment strategies, she added.

“We’ll be able to design and run nationwide clinical trials that will really give some hope to people’s treatment of these injuries of all severities.”

Professor Fitzgerald said other leaders of the Mission would include Professor Terry O’Brien, Program Director Alfred Brain, Director of Neurology and Deputy Director of Research (Alfred Health) and neurotrauma experts Professor Bob Vink and Professor Mark Fitzgerald at the Alfred.

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