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Nature’s pests to help with brain injury recovery research?

It’s no surprise that a head injury can result from a number of different traumatic incidents. Whether while at work at a construction site or trying to retrieve a ream of paper from a top shelf, a worker can get struck on the head and unknowingly have a brain injury.

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Statistics show that over 1.5 million individuals in the US suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Most, if not all, of these individuals spent thousands of dollars on hospital and therapy expenses in the hopes of restoring what the injury damaged. But even with all of the research that has gone into studying traumatic brain injuries, scientists are still left with many questions about they call “underlying medical causes”.

These unanswered questions revolve around the types of illnesses and disabilities a brain injury can cause. But what if one of life’s annoying little pests can actually help scientists and researchers understand what happens after TBI?

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One group of researchers from Wisconsin is using fruit flies to study the effects of TBI. If you’ve ever swatted a fruit fly, you can attest that it seems miraculous when the fruit fly shakes it off and then flies off, even after you are certain you squished it. Like humans, fruit flies seem to be able to function after being struck. Because fruit flies have a similar skull structure and nervous systems, the researchers are hoping to mimic TBI and watch how it affects the fruit fly subjects.

Until the studies are complete and published, it will be unclear how fruit flies can help with brain injury recovery. But maybe this study will shed some light on things like dementia, depression and memory loss – just a few of the serious medical conditions that can result from a brain injury.

Source: Nature World News, “Fruit Flies Could Hold Secrets to Traumatic Brain Injury, Researchers Say,” Tamarra Kemsley, Oct. 16, 2013.

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