Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is seeking to revolutionize treatment for traumatic brain injuries and concussions with a clinical trial where sensors are used to track a patient’s balance.
Nearly 1.5 million people suffer concussions each year and among these people more than 20% continue to have symptoms months or even years after the injury.
Dr. Laurie King, an associate professor of neurology at OHSU, is trying to design a more effective course of treatment for these patients.
Department of Defense provided $6.6 million in grant for the funding for the trial, which challenges the notion that patients need a set amount of rest before starting with physical activity. The trial aims to get people back on their feet and back to their normal lives more quickly.
“There is evidence for the first couple days a person should rest and try to recover, but the extended rest period, there’s not good scientific evidence that that’s the best thing to do for recovery,” said Dr. King.
Therefore, Dr. King decided to use sensors to monitor a patient’s balance which help them start physical therapy.
Shawn Postera suffered a concussion this year. After suffering near-constant nausea for months, Postera underwent this trial. She said she noticed a difference in how she felt a couple weeks after beginning the trial, and her condition has improved even more since then.
“I’ve gone from being nauseated all of the time to never being nauseated. And I’m able to ride my bike, and I’m able to take public transit,” said Postera.
Dr. King is in the third year of her initial clinical trial. She will soon begin another trial, also funded by the DOD, which observes patients who are newly diagnosed with concussions.
OHSU is the only academic health center in the state of Oregon, and also well-known nationally as a university dedicated solely to advancing health sciences. The university concentrates its resources research to prevent and cure disease, on education that prepares physicians, dentists, nurses and other health professionals to succeed in an evolving health care environment, and on patient care that incorporates the latest knowledge and discoveries.
This Portland-based institution has 16,000 employees. OHSU is the top-ranked adult and children’s hospitals in Oregon; it secures competitive research funding of more than $400 million a year. As a public organization, OHSU provides community outreach and services for Oregon’s most vulnerable populations.