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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Victims of traumatic brain injury could have their surgery time cut in half, thanks to research in the works at the University of Oklahoma.

Technology 10 years in the making could reduce surgeries from two to one and help better treat the life-threatening injury.

On OU’s campus, researchers have been working for a decade on technology that could be critical for victims of traumatic brain injuries when seconds count.

“What can happen is the brain needs to swell and it can become a life threatening situation,” said Michael Detamore, Ph.D., a biomedical engineering researcher at OU. “So what the surgeon might do is then take out part of the skull to allow the brain to swell beyond the confines of the skull. But then there’s a need for a second surgery.”

Detamore and his team hope to eliminate the need for that second surgery – with a hydrogel material that starts as paste and becomes a solid, flexible material.

That material would be placed where the skull was removed.

“Then that paste like material can be solidified as a flexible hydrogel that allows the bone to regenerate,” Detamore said. 

OU recently received $2.4 million in funding for this project from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health.

The team behind the study includes Sooner faculty and students as well as researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center. 

They all aim to break barriers and help patients.

“I think we’re the first group to be using regenerative medicine or at least musculoskeletal regenerative medicine as a tool to treat traumatic brain injury,” Detamore said. “This this could be part of a life-saving intervention and update a centuries-old approach to treating these severe TBI.”

The material allows for local drug delivery to the brain to help with swelling.

The funding researchers have received will help keep the study going.

If all goes as planned, it could be used on patients in five to 10 years.