Research & Innovation
At Children’s Hospital Boston, our care is informed by our research, and our discoveries in the laboratory strengthen the care we provide at each child's bedside. Children’s scientific research program is one of the largest and most active of any pediatric hospital in the world.
In particular, our neurology, neurosurgery, sports medicine and emergency medicine researchers are making new inroads in understanding the causes and progression of head and brain injuries, paving ground for new treatments. Our research projects with promise for treating these injuries include:
Study finds CT scans are frequently unnecessary after head injury
Overall, roughly half of U.S. children taken to hospital emergency departments (EDs) for a head injury receive a head CT scan, often to ease worried parents’ concerns. Yet true traumatic brain injury is uncommon. A multi-center study of more than 40,000 children with minor blunt head trauma, co-led by Children’s Hospital Boston, shows that allowing a period of observation can reduce the use of head CT by as much as half without compromising care – and without exposing children to ionizing radiation. Read more.
Kids who receive neuropsychological testing after concussions are sidelined longer
When computerized neuropsychological testing is used, high school athletes suffering from a sports-related concussion are less likely to be returned to play within one week of their injury, according to a study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine co-authored by Children’s clinicians William Meehan, MD and Pierre d'Hemecourt, MD. Read more.
A link between head injuries and epilepsy?
As doctors re-examine many of the basic assumptions and long-held understandings about concussions, research by Children’s neurologist Alexander Rotenberg, MD, PhD, is shedding light on what happens on a molecular level during brain injuries. Learn more.
Understanding the genetics behind concussions
NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the NFL owners, has awarded Children’s Hospital Boston a grant to support sports-related medical research on concussions, specifically examining how genetics may influence a person’s health after repeated concussions. Learn more.
“Rewiring” the brain?
Researchers have long sought a factor that can switch on the brain's ability to learn. Now, research led by Takao Hensch, PhD, of Children's FM Kirby Neurobiology Center and the Department of Neurology, has identified such a trigger. Called Otx2, it signals certain cells in the cortex to mature and initiate a critical period—a time window when the brain can readily rewire itself. Learn more.
Stimulating regrowth of damaged nerve fibers
Because injured neurons in the brain or spinal cord can't grow back, damage from spinal cord injury, stroke or other forms of brain injury can't be repaired. But researchers led by Children’s neurologist Zhigang He, PhD, BM, have found a way to overcome natural inhibitory mechanisms that suppress regeneration, causing nerve fibers to re-grow vigorously. Learn more.
An easier, quicker, portable way to measure intracranial pressure
Children’s neurosurgeon Joseph Madsen, MD, is creating a system to noninvasively measure pressure inside the skulls of patients with head injury, hydrocephalus, subarachnoid hemorrhage and other conditions. His goal is to create a portable device for use by emergency technicians or in battlefield situations. Learn more.
Children’s is known for pioneering some of the most effective diagnostic tools, therapies and preventive approaches in pediatric medicine. A significant part of our success comes from our commitment to research—and to advancing the frontiers of mental health care by conducting clinical trials.
Children’s coordinates hundreds of clinical trials at any given time. Clinical trials are studies that may involve:
- evaluating the effectiveness of a new drug therapy
- testing a new diagnostic procedure or device
- examining a new treatment method for a particular condition
- taking a closer look at the causes and progression of specific diseases
While children must meet strict criteria in order to be eligible for a clinical trial, your child may be eligible to take part in a study. Before considering this option, you should be sure to:
- consult with your child’s treating physician and treatment team
- gather as much information as possible about the specific course of action outlined in the trial
- do your own research about the latest breakthroughs relating to your child’s condition
If your physician recommends that your child participate in a clinical trial, you can feel confident that the plan detailed for that study represents the best and most innovative care available. Taking part in a clinical trial at Children’s is entirely voluntary. Our team will be sure to fully address any questions you may have, and you may remove your child from the medical study at any time.
- Search current and upcoming clinical trials at Children’s
- Search the National Institutes of Health’s list of clinical trials taking place around the world
|Did you know?|
|Children’s neurosurgeon and Brain Injury Center director Mark Proctor, MD, has been named chair of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation.|