The Future of Brain Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injury / Head Injury | TBI
By Richard H. Adler
June 6, 2019
Is it me, or is something happening? I mean really happening in the world of neuro science to help those with disabling traumatic brain injuries. One day I read about an implant into the brain that senses the start of the ‘electrical storm’ that begins right before an epileptic seizure. This implant is able to stop the storm from happening, and suddenly, no epileptic seizure.
Now, in the first-of-its-kind pilot study, a 40 year-old woman who had a significant brain injury as a student 18 years ago from a motor vehicle crash received an implant to stimulate activities in key area of the brain. The result? Her brain function has significantly improved with much less fatigue, and she is now able to read books. It’s still early, but this cutting edge implant could help injured veterans returning from wars regain parts of the lives they’ve lost.
Why am I looking forward to seeing if this pilot study is repeated with similar results? It’s simple. More than 3 million Americans live with disabling traumatic brain injuries from car crashes, falls, and sports injuries. The vast majority of these individuals are lost to the medical system soon after their first treatment. They are left to be cared for by their family or to fend for themselves, managing fatigue, attention and concentration problems with little hope of improvement. Many are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with disabilities related to traumatic brain injuries.
No sooner did I read about the study above, when I came across yet another article that caught my attention. Researchers have developed a “virtual voice generator” that can translate brain signals into speech. This new technology could potentially restore speech to individuals with speech loss and impairment. Read that again. That is a “wow” for survivors of brain trauma. We are now at the spot where someone can think the words in their heads that, in turn, create brain signals. Those brain signals can be turned into a voice.
These examples are just the beginning of this technology boom, but they may hold the key to free those who are alert, and who think, but have lost their voice from the part of the brain that is injured by trauma or stroke. In short, as an attorney that’s dedicated tens of thousands of hours to helping those with traumatic brain damage, I’ve never been more excited and optimistic about the future, and the ability to help brain injury survivors in a way most people never thought possible.