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New tools might help doctors monitor brain injuries better

July 10, 2019 - 3:51 pm
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KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — When a person suffers brain damage and is in a coma, it is often quite difficult to monitor how much damage has been done and when or if the patient will recover, as well as to what degree. 

Nevertheless, within the first few days of traumatic brain injury, physicians and loved ones are often required to make critical decisions about a patient's health.  

Researchers at Columbia have been looking at MRI images, which are taken while patients are asked to perform simple functions or given a stimulus to evaluate unconscious response. 

They are also measuring brain waves with an EEG. According to their study, the researchers found so called "echoes of consciousness" in about 15 percent of patients studied.  

The researchers are looking to see if these echoes actually might predict future recovery.