Dr. Kelso glad to see more attention on brain injuries

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | February 29, 2012

Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. NFL football players. U.S. military vets, returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Even that new Channing Tatum(!) movie, in which his new bride doesn't remember him after a car accident.

In these past few years, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been a hot topic, everywhere you look.

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Matt Kelso, Ph.D.
Matt Kelso, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, is heartened by the fact that the malady to which he's devoted his career has finally got the attention it deserves.

"When I first started in this field there wasn't that much talk about it," Dr. Kelso said. Now, it seems everyone is talking about it.

Attention will wane

But he knows, just as with anything in the news, the media and public will eventually find another hot topic.

"I just hope when interest wanes, we have reliable data that we can build on," he said.

That's what Dr. Kelso's team works on. In his lab, they isolate cells, use air bursts to cause different types or degrees of injury, and study the results. And they study trauma and its effects on rats.

A domino effect

He's fascinated by the way, beyond the initial injury, trauma can cause a cascade of effects that can last months, or even years. He's fascinated by the fact that there's very little genetic component. It's not something you inherit. TBI can happen to anyone, anywhere - thanks to some random event.

Or sometimes, a not-so-random event. TBI victims turn out to be almost overwhelmingly male, and sometimes, people doing something dangerous. Like football.

A game changer

Dr. Kelso loves football. He's the kind of red-blooded American guy who gets excited about every big hit. But, with all that he's learned, has it changed the way he watches the game?

Yes, he said. It has. He sighed.

Of course it has.

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LuAnn Larson RN, BSN
February 29, 2012 at 7:53 AM

I see this happening with soccer players. We have several girls on my daughters team out because they had their third concussion. This is going to have long term effects yet there is no movement to require head gear in this sport or other contact sports other than football! We could prevent many of these injuries by protecting their heads. That is my soapbox! Thanks for your much needed research in this area.