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Scientists use road collision data to improve treatments for brain injury patients

“Speed, direction and level of head protection” may be used to predict brain injury following a road traffic collision, a major study has revealed.

The research, undertaken by Imperial College London, has been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Brain Communications.

According to the latest statistics, almost one in three traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are caused by road traffic collisions – representing around 34 million injuries worldwide.

Using a vast number of data points, the researchers were able to study the likelihood of different types of brain injury on British roads and how various factors, such as speed and direction, relate to the significance of short, medium and long-term damage.

For example, wearing a cycle helmet protected against brain injuries and skull fractures in almost all accidents, despite the speed and direction of the collision.

The report suggests that the data could be used to automatically identify collisions that are “most likely to cause a traumatic brain injury” and provide the basis for existing crash notification systems to “better predict and communicate the risk of severe injury to emergency services”.

This would ensure that patients “quickly receive the most appropriate kind of treatment”, the researchers concluded.

Commenting on the findings, lead author Claire Baker said: “We looked in detail at which road traffic collisions produce brain injury. We now know which types of collisions lead to the most severe head injuries – data which can be used to inform the emergency response and post-collision care pathways.

“Data needed to make these predictions are routinely collected in many modern cars. This means that algorithms using this data could quickly assess and relay the likely type and severity of TBI for each crash as it occurs, enabling emergency operators to deploy the specific type of treatment needed, faster.”


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