Monash researchers part of a global push to address the $400 billion problem of traumatic brain injury

Four Australian researchers, all from Monash University, have contributed to a special Lancet Neurology commission on the identification, prevention and treatment of an insufficiently-recognised global health problem - traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death in young adults and a major cause of death and disability across all ages, with around 50 million people acquiring a TBI each year.

This not only places a huge burden on individuals, families and society, but is estimated to cost the global economy around $US400 billion a year. Increases in road traffic accidents, falls among the elderly, sport-related concussions and conflicts/wars mean the epidemiology of TBI is also changing. It may also be a risk factor for late neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

To ensure that policy-makers, funders, patient representatives, clinicians and researchers are aware of the latest evidence on best-practice clinical care and research, the International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury Research (IntBIR) collaborated with the Lancet Neurology on the 30,000-word Commission, released in Brussels.

Entitled, ‘Traumatic brain injury – integrated approaches to improving clinical care and research’, the Commission presents state-of-the-science descriptors of TBI and its severity, as well as methods for epidemiological monitoring.

It argues for a shift from the current paradigm, of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, to more personalised treatments and highlights the need for evidence-based treatment guidelines.

One of the Monash University authors, Professor Jamie Cooper, Director of the Monash University Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre, said that there had been few if any improvements in treatment of TBI in the past two decades.

“By taking this global approach – coordinating data and input from developed and developing countries regarding their treatment and incidence of TBI – we may have a chance at identifying the best treatment strategies and advancing the prognosis for patients,” Professor Cooper said.

The Commission was led by Professor Andrew Maas from Belgium’s Antwerp University Hospital and University of Antwerp and Professor David Menon from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge (UK).

Other Monash University authors were Cochrane Australia Research Fellow, Anneliese Synnot, the Professor of Surgery and Public Health, Russell Gruen and Associate Professor Peter Bragge, from BehaviourWorks Australia.