Dr. Carey Balaban is currently working with animal models to study the short term and long term effects of mild traumatic brain injuries caused by proximity to explosions. This research has a direct impact for our soldiers returning from combat oversees, who suffer from injuries incurred by nearby explosions. Often, the shock waves from blasts cause far more lasting and damaging neurological injuries than physical ones. Symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) often include lingering headaches, loss of sleep and concentration, cognitive and emotional difficulties, varying levels of amnesia, depression, apathy, anxiety, and sometimes other issues like balance disorders, tinnitus, and loss of vision. New research has even indicated that mTBI may impact or influence the onset of neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite being a very serious condition, mTBI is not nearly understood well enough or treated effectively enough. Dr. Balaban, in order to resolve the apparent lack of necessary knowledge, is proposing a new center for research that will bridge the gap between what we learn from animal models and providing new treatments to human patients. This center would have two major research arms: 1) A state of the art blast chamber in order to create consistent animal models and provide immediate and convenient access to MRI scans and other necessary equipment; and 2) A clinical institute that would provide care for current sufferers of mTBI in order to correlate the data gained from the blast chamber with human subjects. The clinical institute would help redesign current paradigms of care for those afflicted with mTBI, and to associate symptoms and causes of mTBI with other neurological conditions including post traumatic stress disorder.