In war-torn areas, close-range explosions from improvised explosive devices and other blasts can cause mild and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in our troops.

Determining best practices for treating the effects of TBI on the health of our Veterans has been an emphasis for Christine E. Kasper, Ph.D., R.N., senior research scientist at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Dealing with the significant effect of TBI for the civilian and military health care systems can be quite a challenge due to the overall complexity,” said Dr. Kasper.

Thanks in part to her TBI research Dr. Kasper is one of 19 researchers internationally being inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame at the 26th International Nursing Research Congress in Puerto Rico on July 25, 2015.

Christine E. Kasper, Ph.D., R.N.

Christine E. Kasper, Ph.D., R.N.

“It’s an honor for VA to recognize Dr. Kasper for her research efforts. Her life-changing research results, her insight, expertise, and integrity have greatly impacted the profession and improved the lives of our veterans,” said Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Interim Under Secretary for Health.

Dr. Kasper’s research in this area is important because blast-induced traumatic brain injury has become a signature injury of the recent conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan. For this population the data suggest that even mild and moderate forms of TBI can cause long-term behavioral changes.

Dr. Kasper’s earlier TBI studies found inflammation, behavioral changes, and lasting memory impairment. The aim of her most recent study was to determine whether treatment with the anti-inflammatory drug minocycline could help diminish the behavioral effects of brain injury. She also wanted to assess the effects of the treatment on select brain regions associated with anxiety, depression, and memory.

“We found that the minocycline treatment normalized serum and tissue levels of the majority of the selected regions,” said Dr. Kasper.

In addition to finding medication to help reduce brain inflammation after TBI, Dr. Kasper also turned to brain stimulation to help improve working memory.

Dr. Kasper’s research shows great promise in improving the treatment of traumatic brain injury. The combination of physical and social interactions appears to help with learning and memory functions, and is easily implemented.

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Published on May. 8, 2015

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