Hypothermia Therapy Does not Appear to Reduce Traumatic Brain Injury

Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine reported the results of a 5 year study involving hypothermia therapy for traumatically brain injured children. This therapy involves cooling the body of the injured patient down to just over 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) for a period of 24 hours immediately following the brain injury and then slowly rewarming it to normal temperature. Animal studies had indicated this technique improved survival and neurologic outcome.

Unfortunately, the recent NEJM study and other studies involving adults do not support the use of this therapy. In fact, studies of both adults and children have indicated that use of hypothermia therapy in cases of traumatic brain injury have actually reduced survival and resulted in worse neurologic outcomes. While some studies have indicated that the therapy may be of benefit in cases of adults or newborns who have suffered hypoxic/ischemic (lack of oxygen or blood) brain injury, it has not been shown to benefit those suffering traumatic head injuries.

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