Traumatic brain injuries are frequently caused by blunt force trauma, but there has been an increase in TBIs caused by blasts (bTBIs). Blast TBI is one on the most common injuries experienced by soldiers in recent conflicts, and is dubbed a ‘signature injury’ of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Civilians exposed to industrial accidents or terrorist attacks are also at risk.
Unlike blunt force trauma, where damage/injury is usually localised to one area of the brain, blasts create a shockwave that affects the whole brain — causing widespread damage. This can cause anxiety, depression, and problems with cognition, memory and sleep.
Previously, Dr Robert Dickinson and colleagues from Imperial College London showed that xenon gas helped limit brain damage and improve long term neurological outcomes in mice which had suffered blunt force brain injury.
Now, the same research group has found for the first time that xenon can also limit blast-induced brain injury from developing in mouse brain tissue exposed to a blast shockwave, in a study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.