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Infusion of calories can help heal traumatic brain injuries

A new study reveals that for some members of the military wounded in battle, nutrition has appeared to be a crucial component of successful treatment of their traumatic brain injuries.

The nutrition is especially effective if it's administered soon after the brain injury is sustained, according to an Institute of Medicine report commissioned by the Department of Defense.

The research urges the Defense Department to make standard infusions of calories and proteins to victims of brain injuries.

According to WebMD, the research could also change the way civilian doctors treat people injured in car accidents, bicycling mishaps, collisions in sports, slips and falls and other events leading to brain injuries.

The article says brain injuries are common among military members in Afghanistan and Iraq. The military reports more than 200,000 traumatic brain injuries since the year 2000, with more 2,100 of those cases categorized as severe.

Institute of Medicine panel chair, John Erdman, PhD, professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, said his group was asked to evaluate current TBI (traumatic brain injury) nutrition treatments and assess emerging approaches.

He said, "In most areas, we need more research. We're a bit at the infancy of understanding which particular food components may enhance or protect someone from injury."

The panel concluded that infusions of calories and proteins in the first 24 hours after a TBI and for two weeks following the injury can lead to a major reduction in brain swelling and aid in recovery.

Among the nutrients recommended are creatine, choline, n-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Source: WebMD: "Nutrition May Help Treat Traumatic Brain Injury" by Matt McMillen: April 20, 2011

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