The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a new project that will aim to create a brain freeze device to halt the effects of brain trauma in wounded United States troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. DARPA attests that because of roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), traumatic brain injury has become the most common form of serious injury in fighting in the Middle East.
DARPA believes that in the same way that cold treatments help alleviate the symptoms of brain aneurysms and strokes, a freezing device could be applied to the victim’s head on the battlefield and stop the brain trauma from exceeding the initial stages of impact and injury. The initial impact obviously causes the primary damage to the brain, as the tissues and blood vessels stretch and tear. However, DARPA believes that this supposed device could stop the trauma immediately at this point, avoiding the more dangerous secondary damage that is caused as the brain cells rapidly deteriorate and die. The secondary damage to the brain is most commonly responsible for fatalities and irreversible loss of bodily functions.
The challenge for DARPA lies within the ability to harness a freezing mechanism that can stave off the advancement of brain damage without harming the entire brain. As with any treatment, each victim and patient differs in health and reaction to treatment, and in an environment as hostile as a battlefield, attention to detail is of the ultimate critical importance. It is because of this factor that it is assumed that any invented freeze device will operate with controls to regulate specific temperatures per each wounded soldier.
Induced hypothermia has been researched as a possible treatment for strokes, as the freezing temperature battles inflammation of the tissues and also decreases the body’s metabolism. This type of treatment has shown potential in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke victims, to be specific, as well as promising results in the treatment of lung cancer patients in previous British medical research.