The messages are drummed into Americans from an early age. Fasten your seatbelt. Wear a helmet.
Despite these preventive measures, severe traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death for U.S. children. About 7,000 die each year from severe TBI, usually following accidents involving cars, bicycles or ATVs; sports injuries, falls or abuse.
These children are victims of a double tragedy -- the mishap that caused the harm and a medical field that has no standard treatment for TBI. But researchers from Pittsburgh have been awarded a $16.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to lead an international study to help find new ways of treating the injuries.
The NIH chose Michael J. Bell, director of pediatric neurocritical care and neurotrauma at UPMC's Children's Hospital, and Stephen Wisniewski, co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, to head the five-year study.
Their team will gather data on 1,000 children in the United States and other countries to gauge the effectiveness of treatment following their injuries.
This major grant speaks volumes about the expertise of the Pitt and UPMC doctors. It also reminds Pittsburghers of the pioneering research done routinely in this region.