A recent medical study showed that treating victims of head injury with xenon gas may minimize the degree of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The gas has been used as a medication for general anesthesia and also tired as a sedative for critical care patients. However, this early-stage study into head injuries suggests that the medicine should be further studied for accident victims and other sufferers of TBIs. Doctors explain that traumatic brain damage often occurs as a result of a car crash, slip and fall accident or assault. War time injuries and explosions can also cause severe head injuries. A mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion, can leave the victim with memory problems, personality changes, headaches, dizziness, anxiety and depression. Medical experts say that the more severe the injury to the brain, the more severe and permanent the symptoms can be for the victim. They note that the initial accident or trauma is only the beginning of the process of brain injury. There’s a secondary injury that occurs over the next hours to days that can sometimes create more problems and disability than the initial injury. The researchers believe that the xenon gas is able to protect the health of the brain cells and prevent this further neurological injury, if given soon after a crash or other accident with head injury.
The scientists have also been studying the use of xenon gas for newborn babies who have suffered oxygen deprivation during birth. Possible causes of such lack of oxygen during delivery of an infant can include damage or problems with the health of the placenta or umbilical cord, an umbilical cord that is wrapped around the newborn’s neck, a birth injury, or prolonged labor and delivery of the infant. Experts posit that some of the causes can be due to a doctor’s mistake, missed diagnosis or hospital error while other problems can’t be prevented. The ultimate outcome of the oxygen deprivation can be devistating and leave the infant partially or even fully brain dead. The research scientists hope that their investigation into the use of xenon in these sick or injured patient will help prevent further brain damage. You can read more about the use of this gas as a medicine in brain injuries here.
Illustrative photo by Abu-Amero KK, Al-Dhalaan H, Bohlega S, Hellani A, Taylor RW. [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons