News & Headlines

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Technology Networks | May 24, 2024

A comprehensive approach that examines the intersection of multiple biological processes is necessary to elucidate the development of stress-related disorders. In a new study, investigators from McLean Hospital, a member of the  Mass General Brigham healthcare system, working with colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin and Lieber Institute for Brain Development, uncovered both shared and distinct molecular changes across brain regions, genomic layers, cell types, and blood in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). These results, published May 24th in Science , could provide potential avenues for novel therapeutics and biomarkers.

NJ Spotlight News | May 24, 2024

Four years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people are still suffering from one of the disease’s worst side effects — long COVID-19 and the debilitating brain fog it causes. Researchers at Rutgers University recently published one of the most detailed investigations into the symptom, looking at how and why it causes some people to experience difficulty thinking or concentrating. The researchers recruited a group of people who were seeking care at Rutgers for their COVID-19-related symptoms and followed them over the course of two years.

NPR | May 23, 2024

MDMA — the chemical found in the drug ecstasy — has appeared effective for treating PTSD in clinical trials. But there are concerns about the quality of the research. Later this summer, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether the chemical found in the drug ecstasy can be used as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. FDA approval of MDMA would be a milestone for the movement to bring psychedelics into the mainstream of mental health care, but now there are questions about the research suggesting MDMA is effective for PTSD. 

Stars and Stripes | May 23, 2024

Some Army units will soon offer troops suicide prevention training on virtual reality headsets that transport the soldier inside the home of a peer in crisis with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer coaching them through the scenario. The experience is realistic and brings an “emotional edge” to the training, Weimer said during a recent interview about the technology that the Army began using last year to teach troops how to prevent sexual misconduct.

Wayne State University | May 23, 2024

A team of researchers from Wayne State University was awarded a $1.3 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study “Advanced wireless augmented reality-enhanced exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.” The project will be led by Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Arash Javanbakht, M.D., who directs the Stress, Trauma and Anxiety Research Clinic, or STARC, and invented the technology. Javanbakht, a clinical psychiatrist whose work focuses on anxiety, trauma and PTSD, often helps civilians, refugees and first responders with mental health disorders.

Healthcare in Europe | May 21, 2024

Important brain structures that are key for signaling in the brain are narrower and less dense in females, and more likely to be damaged by brain injuries, such as concussion.

WBUR | May 20, 2024

Relatives of the man responsible for the mass shootings in last October blame themselves for not doing more to stop him. And in emotional testimony before the commission investigating the tragedy, they also called on law enforcement, the media, the Army and others to do better in the future. Chief among those calls is for better access to mental health treatment and protections from traumatic brain injuries for soldiers who are exposed to blasts and sonic booms during training.

The New York Times | May 20, 2024

When a patient with a severe traumatic brain injury is comatose, in intensive care, unresponsive and hooked up to a ventilator, but not brain-dead, when is the time to withdraw life support? A small study on the fates of people in such situations suggests that doctors and patients’ families may make better decisions if they wait even a few days longer than usual.

The Age | May 20, 2024

An ‘acute brain failure’ jettisons a patient, their doctors and families into an anxious twilight zone. How aware is a person in a coma? And how are decisions made in the face of uncertainty?

Health Imaging | May 17, 2024

Although the acute urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic has been in the world’s rearview mirror for some time, the virus continues to affect a portion people who contracted it, even two years after their initial recovery.  A new paper published in The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific details a handful of brain abnormalities identified on the MRI scans of people who had moderate to severe cases of COVID. The imaging findings align with the patients’ lingering cognitive complaints and fatigue issues, indicating that, for some, the virus’ impact could persist for years. 

Axios | May 16, 2024

Clinical trials using the drug known as ecstasy to treat PTSD may have been tainted by investigator biases and understated possible harmful effects, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review said in a report on Tuesday. Why it matters: The influential nonprofit's assessment could complicate prospects for the therapy, which has been touted as a treatment for veterans with PTSD and is part of a cohort of psychedelic drugs that has shown promise for treating addictions and mental health disorders.

Medical Press | May 15, 2024

An editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by experts from Spaulding Rehabilitation, Boston University, Mayo Clinic, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, argues that the term "subconcussion" is a dangerous misnomer that should be retired. The authors are appealing to the medical community and media to substitute the term with more specific terms so the public can better understand the risks of brain injuries and advance effective efforts to prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Pharmacy Times | May 15, 2024

A study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that a generative artificial intelligence (AI) model can accurately screen for post-traumatic stress disorder following recent childbirth (CB-PTSD). The study explored the capabilities—as well as weaknesses—of different models from OpenAI, including ChatGPT, to identify a version that can offer insights into maternal health following a traumatic childbirth.

MSN | May 14, 2024

Robert Card, the Army reservist who shot and killed 18 people in Maine’s most deadly shooting, had evidence of traumatic brain injuries, researchers said. Researchers at Boston University analyzed brain tissue and found there was degeneration in nerve fibers that allow different areas of the brain to communicate, inflammation and a small blood vessel injury, The Associated Press reported.

Mass General Brigham | May 14, 2024

Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of hospitalizations and deaths around the world, affecting more than five million people each year. Predicting outcomes following a brain injury can be challenging, yet families are asked to make decisions about continuing or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment within days of injury. In a new study, Mass General Brigham investigators analyzed potential clinical outcomes for TBI patients enrolled in the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI (TRACK-TBI) study for whom life support was withdrawn. The investigators found that some patients for whom life support was withdrawn may have survived and recovered some level of independence a few months after injury. These findings suggest that delaying decisions on withdrawing life support might be beneficial for some patients.

NPR | May 14, 2024

In a matter of months, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether the drug commonly known as ecstasy can be used as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. An approval by the agency would represent an enormous milestone for the movement to bring psychedelics into the mainstream of mental health care. An FDA rejection of MDMA, the abbreviation of the drug's chemical name, would deal a major setback to the effort.

Mass General Brigham | May 13, 2024

Concussion management often involves physical and mental rest until symptoms go away. This can help you prevent second injuries and allow injured tissues to heal. However, research is starting to show that some physical and cognitive activity may help promote recovery. “What we’ve seen over the last few years is a progressive pushback in the literature on this idea of rest, rest, rest. There’s evidence that introduction of early physical activity promotes recovery,” says Ross Zafonte, DO, a Mass General Brigham sports medicine specialist and an expert in concussion care. “What’s really exciting is that [new research now shows that] early cognitive activity of a moderate intensity (in other words, returning to school earlier or returning to other mild activities) is associated with a better outcome.”

Forbes | May 13, 2024

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced an upcoming committee meeting intended to discuss an application submitted by Lykos Therapeutics for MDMA-assisted therapy to treat PTSD. The public advisory meeting headed up by the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee is scheduled for June 4. It is another significant move forward for MDMA-assisted therapy being made available to patients suffering from PTSD.

The Mercury News | May 13, 2024

Bailey will trade in his two-piece catcher’s mask for a hockey-style one said to provide more protection after suffering the second concussion of his MLB career.

KRDO | May 10, 2024

A first-of-its-kind Canadian research study is working towards a major medical breakthrough for a brain disorder, believed to be caused by repeated head injuries, that can only be detected after death. Inside the brain imaging centre at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Scientific Director Neil Vasdev is hopeful that his team is on the cusp of being able to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a living person. | May 9, 2024

An Air Force policy change will allow pilots to receive 60 days of mental health treatment without being taken out of flight status, a notable policy update as the service works to destigmatize airmen seeking care. Prior to the policy update, which was publicized in a May 1 press release, if an airman began seeking treatment for mental health-related illnesses or concerns, they would then need a return-to-duty waiver to fly, a requirement that often kept pilots grounded for extended periods.

MSN | May 9, 2024

Concussions in children aged 6 and under continue to affect their health three months after the event. This is the finding of a study led by Miriam Beauchamp, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Université de Montréal and researcher at Sainte-Justine hospital. Using a new measurement tool for young children, Beauchamp and her team demonstrated that early childhood concussions cause significantly elevated post-concussive symptoms that are not attributable solely to the general effects of the injury.

Reuters | May 8, 2024

The U.S. FDA's panel of independent advisers will on June 4 deliberate whether they should recommend approval for the first MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, Lykos Therapeutics said on Monday. This would be the first FDA panel of outside experts to review a potential new PTSD treatment in 25 years.

Health News | May 7, 2024

Amid ample evidence of the dangers of head injuries sustained by football players, the NFL recently announced that it would be mandating protective soft-shell helmet covers — known as Guardian Caps — at every preseason practice, every regular-season and postseason practice with contact, and allow them during regular games. | May 6, 2024

Suicide among the military community is an issue of significant concern, particularly given its disproportionate impact on service members compared to the civilian population. The stigma around discussing mental health and separation from service is a considerable barrier to treatment, often resulting in guarded and misleading responses that undermine effective intervention strategies.