Researchers use fruit flies to study brain injuries in humans

Birmingham residents may be interested to learn of a new study that uses fruit flies to see how the human brain responds to traumatic injury. The information can apply to victims of car and motorcycle accidents, athletes, people who fall and hit their head, or just about any situation that involves a hard impact to the head.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say the fruit fly's brain is encased in a hard shell, much like the human brain is. When vials containing the flies are hit with force, the flies suffer dizziness, loss of coordination and temporary incapacitation. Study findings were recently published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." Researchers found most flies did not die immediately from the impact but nonetheless encountered many problems.

When humans sustain a traumatic brain injuries, they may have concussions, dizzy spells, lose their memory and become severely depressed. Down the road, victims may suffer from neurodegeneration or dementia. Traumatic brain injuries cost Americans billions of dollars every year in terms of medical treatment, a victim's loss of earnings and productivity, researchers note.

People who sustain a brain injury in accidents caused by someone else may experience a long road to recovery; some may never return to their pre-accident condition and may require medical care for the remainder of their life. Brain injury victims may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault party and his insurance company. Unfortunately, they may need treatment far beyond the time they can legally take action in a personal injury claim. A personal injury attorney may assist them in making sure the cost of future medical treatment and lost earnings are included in the settlement award.

Source: Science Daily, "From Football to Flies: Lessons About Traumatic Brain Injury", October 13, 2013

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