Connect with us
  • Elysium

Research

Limiting screen time after concussion ‘cuts duration of symptoms’

Published

on

Limiting screen time for young adults after concussion results in shorter duration of symptoms, new research has revealed. 

A clinical trial of 125 young adults shows that those who limited screen time for 48 hours immediately after suffering a concussion had a significantly shorter duration of symptoms than those who were permitted more screen time. 

These findings offer the first clinical evidence that restricting time spent at a computer, television or phone screen in the acute period following a concussion can reduce the duration of symptoms. The study supports preliminary clinical recommendations to limit screen time.

The US Centers for Disease Control and the International Concussion in Sports Group recommend a period of complete cognitive and physical rest for 24 to 48 hours following a concussion diagnosis. Yet there are no clear guidelines regarding what constitutes cognitive rest during this period.

“It’s one thing parents and children always ask in the emergency department,” said lead author Theodore E. Macnow, assistant professor of paediatrics at UMass Chan Medical School. “Is screen time allowed?

“We’re still learning how to treat concussions and there are no clear recommendations regarding screen time. Nobody has yet looked at this question in a rigorous way. We wanted to get a better handle on this question, so we conducted a randomized clinical trial.”

From June of 2018 to February of 2020, Macnow and colleagues assessed 125 patients aged from 12 to 25 who presented with a concussion to the Emergency Department at UMass Memorial Medical Center, the clinical partner of UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester. 

Patients were assessed and randomly placed in one of two cohorts. The first cohort was instructed to abstain from any electronic screens for 48 hours, while the second group was allowed any form of screen so long as it didn’t induce symptoms. Both groups were advised to avoid work and schoolwork for the first 48 hours.

Patients completed a Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) at the time of diagnosis and every day for the 10-day study. The PCSS is a 22-symptom scale, which grades each symptom from 0 (not present) to 6 (severe) and reliably detects change over time in concussed patients. 

In the absence of a head injury, a baseline score of less than three on the PCSS survey is considered normal. Additionally, patients completed a screen time survey on days one to three and an activity survey from days four to 10.

An analysis of the data showed that the group permitted screen time during the initial 48 hours after a concussion experienced a significantly longer time to recover, measured by a PCSS score of less than three. 

On average, this group experienced a median time of eight days until symptom resolution compared to 3.5 days for the group that abstained from screen time. During this time, the cohort permitted screen time logged a median of 630 minutes over the 48-hour period while the cohort abstaining from screen time logged a median of 130 minutes.

“These findings support the conclusion that brief screen time abstinence following a concussion is associated with a faster recovery,” said Macnow. “Given this data, preliminary clinical recommendations should be to limit screen time.

“It’s not clear why screen time exacerbated concussion symptoms but there are a lot of reasons to suspect it’s not good.” 

Further research is needed to establish the true pictures, added Macnow. 

“These findings suggest that a larger, more diverse, multicenter study is warranted to see if the results are consistent,” he said. 

“What’s more, we only looked at the first 48 hours after diagnosis. It would be worthwhile to see if abstaining from screen time longer had more of an impact or if specific screen time activities—video games vs. television—have a more pronounced effect on recovery time.”

Research

New hope in treatment of brain cancer GBM

Published

on

Findings from pioneering new research suggest there could be a new approach to treating one of the most common and devastating forms of brain cancer in adults – Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). 

In a seven-year study, scientists from the University of Surrey show that a short chain of amino acids (the HTL-001 peptide) is effective at targeting and inhibiting the function of a family of genes responsible for the growth of GBM – Hox genes. The study was conducted in cell and animal models.

The HTL-001 peptide used in the study has undergone safety testing and is suitable for patient trials. These trials are now being considered in GBM and other cancers.

The study adds further progress and gives new hope in an area where advances have not been as rapid as in other cancer types. 

Professor Hardev Pandha, project lead and Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Surrey, said: “People who suffer from GBM have a five per cent survival rate over a five-year period – a figure that has not improved in decades. 

“While we are still early in the process, our seven-year project offers a glimmer of hope for finding a solution to Hox gene dysregulation, which is associated with the growth of GBM and other cancers, and which has proven to be elusive as a target for so many years.”

Ironically, Hox genes are responsible for the healthy growth of brain tissue but are ordinarily silenced at birth after vigorous activity in the growing embryo. 

However, if they are inappropriately ‘switched on’ again, their activity can lead to the progression of cancer. Hox gene dysregulation has long been recognised in GBM.

The project was carried out in collaboration with the universities of Surrey, Leeds and Texas, and HOX Therapeutics, a University of Surrey start-up company based on the University’s Surrey Research Park.

Professor Susan Short, co-author of the study from the University of Leeds, said: “We desperately need new treatment avenues for these aggressive brain tumours. 

“Targeting developmental genes like the HOX genes that are abnormally switched on in the tumour cells could be a novel and effective way to stop glioblastomas growing and becoming life-threatening.”

James Culverwell, CEO of HOX Therapeutics, said: “HOX Therapeutics is excited to be associated with this project and we hope that with our continuing support, this research will eventually lead to novel and effective treatments for both brain and other cancers where HOX gene over-expression is a clear therapeutic target.”

Continue Reading

Research

Brain cancer research backed by award

Dr Sharel Peisan E’s research into nanoscale electrochemistry of brain cancer cells has received the Springboard Award

Published

on

Pioneering brain cancer research has been backed by a new six-figure award, to support its ambition to advance diagnosis and treatments. 

Dr Sharel Peisan E, a chemistry lecturer at Teesside University, will examine the nanoscale electrochemistry of brain cancer cells.

Using a multifunctional nanoscale electrochemical imaging platform, Dr E will be able to take a closer look at brain tumour cells and their processes to gain a better understanding of their biology.

The technology uses tiny electrodes to gain an extremely close and detailed visualisation of the biology of living cells.

This research project, backed by an award of £100,000, aims to explore how brain cancer reacts to different therapies on a cellular level, which will be applied to improving or designing more effective treatments for cancer patients.

It will also be able to provide insight into other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s in much the same way.

Glioblastoma is one of the most devastating cancers, although its biology remains somewhat of a mystery in cancer research, with brain cancer cells being difficult to analyse using current methods of examination,” explained Dr E, who is based at Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre.

NHC National Horizons Centre

“My research will use advanced nanoscale imaging to provide a new view of the solid, liquid and gaseous processes, known as heterogeneous processes, on the cancer cells at the nanoscale, providing additional information on the glioblastoma biology which has previously been unattainable through microscopic techniques, allowing us to improve current diagnostics and treatments.”

Dr E won the grant from the Academy of Medical Sciences as part of the Springboard Award, which provides funding and career support for innovative bioscientists.

Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre, based at the Darlington campus, is a £22.3million centre of excellence for innovation and training in biosciences and healthcare, with strength in cancer research.

Professor Vikki Rand, interim director of the National Horizons Centre, said: “Here at the National Horizons Centre, we are positioned at the forefront of the biosciences and healthcare sector, leading groundbreaking research to drive progress in key areas including disease and climate change.

“We are devoted to gaining as much knowledge about cancer as we can, and our work in cancer research is particularly impressive, directly influencing the wider healthcare sector through studies which inform new and improved therapies to help real patients which is, after all, what our research is all about.

“Grants such as the Springboard Award from the Academy of Medical Sciences are extremely important and we are thrilled that Dr E has won this very substantial funding for her research.”

Continue Reading

Research

Research could pioneer new brain haemorrhage treatment

The study could yield a breakthrough to reduce the risk of brain damage and disability and increase patients’ chances of survival

Published

on

A novel method is being pioneered for the treatment of brain haemorrhage, which it is hoped could reduce the risk of brain damage and disability and increase patients’ chances of survival.

Brain haemorrhages, or haemorrhagic strokes, occur when blood leaks from a blood vessel in or around the brain and in the UK accounts for about 15 per cent of all strokes.

The reaction of the brain to the sudden presence of excess blood can lead to brain damage, disability and death – with almost a half of patients going on to die within a month as a result of suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University are now collaborating with the University of Manchester to find a way to prevent the damage to brain cells caused by iron from the blood that builds up in the brain after a haemorrhage.

“The death rates due to brain haemorrhage have not changed for several decades. This sort of research is therefore vital to find the new treatments necessary to improve survival,” said Professor Stuart Allan of the University of Manchester. 

The researchers – funded by Brain Research UK – are focusing on drugs called ‘iron chelators’, which bind to iron to prevent its accumulation in the body.

They will package these iron chelator drugs into bubbles (‘liposomes’) which can be used to more effectively deliver drugs into the body.

It can be challenging to target drugs to affected areas of the brain due to the ‘blood brain barrier’, which works to prevent potentially harmful toxins in the body from reaching it.

But the team hopes its novel approach will enable the drug to stay in the blood stream for a longer period of time and allow enough drug to get to the area of the brain that contains the bleeding, while also not exposing the rest of the body to unnecessary side effects.

The work, which will involve the use of mice and patient samples, will take about three years.

The study involves a multidisciplinary team of scientists led by Nottingham Trent University’s Dr Zahraa Al-Ahmady, in collaboration with Prof Stuart Allan, Dr Adrian-Parry Jones and Dr Ben Dickie at the University of Manchester and NTU’s Prof Sergio Rutella and Prof Graham Ball.

“Unfortunately, no specific medications currently exist to prevent or treat brain haemorrhage,” said lead researcher Dr Al-Ahmady.

“There are severe issues related to having this blood and iron accumulation in the brain, which contributes to the death of brain cells. 

“We hope our approach will prevent this excess iron from damaging neurons and other tissue and be a new approach to blocking blood induced brain damage after bleeding.

“Many of those who suffer a brain haemorrhage will sadly die and those who survive can have permanent disabilities and so the creation of new drugs is essential. 

“We are aiming to find a way to enable treatment to better infiltrate the brain and to remain at the disease site for longer before more serious damage occurs.”

Caroline Blakely, chief executive of Brain Research UK, said: “We’re excited to be funding this important work by Dr Al-Ahmady and collaborators, and hope that it will prove to be an important step towards improving outcomes for patients who have suffered a brain haemorrhage.

“We are only able to fund research like this thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our supporters, many of whom are raising funds in tribute to loved ones affected by brain conditions.”

Continue Reading

Newsletter

Sign up for the NR Times newsletter
I would like to receive by email other offers, promotions and services from Aspect Publishing Ltd and its group companies.*

Trending