Saving the brain after mild-to-moderate traumatic injury: A report on new insights of the physiology underlying adequate maintenance of cerebral perfusion

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2021 Aug 1;91(2S Suppl 2):S33-S39. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003286.


Abstract: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in civilian trauma and battlefield settings. It has been classified across a continuum of dysfunctions, with as much as 80% to 90% of cases diagnosed as mild to moderate in combat casualties. In this report, a framework is presented that focuses on the potential benefits for acute noninvasive treatment of reduced cerebral perfusion associated with mild TBI by harnessing the natural transfer of negative intrathoracic pressure during inspiration. This process is known as intrathoracic pressure regulation (IPR) therapy, which can be applied by having a patient breath against a small inspiratory resistance created by an impedance threshold device. Intrathoracic pressure regulation therapy leverages two fundamental principles for improving blood flow to the brain: (1) greater negative intrathoracic pressure enhances venous return, cardiac output, and arterial blood pressure; and (2) lowering of intracranial pressure provides less resistance to cerebral blood flow. These two effects work together to produce a greater pressure gradient that results in an improvement in cerebral perfusion pressure. In this way, IPR therapy has the potential to counter hypotension and hypoxia, potentially significant contributing factors to secondary brain injury, particularly in conditions of multiple injuries that include severe hemorrhage. By implementing IPR therapy in patients with mild-to-moderate TBI, a potential exists to provide early neuroprotection at the point of injury and a bridge to more definitive care, particularly in settings of prolonged delays in evacuation such as those anticipated in future multidomain operations.

Level of evidence: Report.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / etiology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / therapy*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Respiration
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • War-Related Injuries / physiopathology
  • War-Related Injuries / therapy