What do traumatic brain injuries and yams have in common?

It’s all about progesterone.

If Rhode Island researchers are right, and can prove what they are seeing on a larger scale, there may be even more hope for someone with a brain injury. The ProTECT study is being carried on in a small room in the Rhode Island Hospital, led by an E.R. doctor. The “Pro” part stands for progesterone.
The rationale behind this exercise is that progesterone exists, naturally, in women and men. The difference here is that the particular progesterone the team is working with is not derived from humans. It comes from a yam.

Kind of gives one a slightly different take on Thanksgiving sweet potatoes.
So far, tests are demonstrating that the yam-based progesterone used on animals is decreasing brain swelling. The benefits were deemed so great, it was then tried on humans. The results have been extremely encouraging. There were two human trials, one a world away, in China and another in Atlanta, Georgia. They all demonstrated a decreased morbidity, which refers to having a disease, or being unhealthy, and a lower death rate.

It’s an innovative idea, one that could well be considered to be on the cutting edge of science and medicine. It may also be thought to be off-the-wall, but when attempting to find treatment or therapies for dealing with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), any and all routes are worth taking a look at. At least that is what a team of Rhode Island researchers are thinking.

TBI is more prevalent than we think. Every 60 seconds, four Americans sustain a brain injury. Every five minutes, one person is permanently disabled due to a TBI. Research that assists in dealing with the results of this type of injury is ongoing, and some inroads have been made. However, for the most part, medical personnel still have their hands tied when it comes to managing the symptoms of a swollen brain and neuron damage. It clearly becomes a case of holding down the fort and hoping for the best.

Rhode Island is not the only U.S. location doing this study. It is underway nationally in at least 40 other sites, with the intention of determining if the progesterone, combined with the usual method of caring for head traumas, which is largely supportive, works better than just the usual treatment protocol. There are at least 800 patients currently in the trial, and even though there are some side-effects, such as infusion site inflammation, clotting and possible pulmonary embolism, the future is beginning to look a bit brighter for TBI patients. All hope is welcome.

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