NEWS | March 24, 2020

Long-term motor recovery possible after severe traumatic brain injury, neuroscience expert says


Developments in non-invasive forms of measuring brain function have shown that long-term motor recovery can occur beyond six years after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to Ryan D’Arcy, an internationally-known speaker who recently presented at a special Grand Rounds session at UC Davis Health.

Ryan D'Arcy Ryan D'Arcy

Titled “Axe to the head and traumatic brain injury: From the development of brain vital signs to recovery beyond conventional limits,” the session was sponsored by the UC Davis Health Department of Neurological Surgery in honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month.

D’Arcy’s presentation showcased an ongoing case study of a Canadian soldier who is recovering well beyond expected limits after a blunt force axe attack in Afghanistan. He reviewed the development of a brain vital signs framework within the context of severe TBI, concussion and other neurological conditions, including stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

He also discussed the evaluation of a portable neuromodulation stimulator for facilitating neuroplasticity and pushing the conventional limits of functional recovery through intensive rehabilitation.

“Typically, studies of new therapies for traumatic brain injury evaluate the degree of recovery at six or 12 months after the injury,” said Lara Zimmermann, assistant professor and co-director of Neurocritical Care Service for the Departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery. “Those of us who care for patients with head trauma hear accounts from both patients and families that recovery sometimes continues well beyond six months. It’s very important we learn to identify these patients and continue to investigate how best to stimulate and support their ongoing recovery.” 

D’Arcy is the co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of HealthTech Connex in Vancouver, Canada. Trained in neuroscience, neurotechnology and medical imaging, he holds an Endowed BC Leadership Chair in medical technology, is a tenured professor at Simon Fraser University and an affiliate professor at the University of British Columbia. D’Arcy is also a frequent TEDx speaker, and gives presentations on translational neuroscience advances around the world.