Left-Sided Brain Injury May Increase Risk Of Hospital Acquired Infection

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New findings published in the March issue of Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation could have incredible implications for immune defense research, infection control practices, and rehabilitation strategies for stroke and traumatic brain injury patients.


Kessler researchers Pasquale Frisina, PhD, Ann Kutlik, BA, and A.M. Barrett, MD, said in their study, “Left-sided brain injury associated with more hospital-acquired infections during inpatient rehabilitation.” The study was funded by the Kessler Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and it retrospectively investigates 2,236 inpatients with brain lesions caused by TBI or stroke.

Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) is a common complication for patients admitted to hospitals, and it can have a terrible cost on health and expenses. Only infections contracted and diagnosed within 48 to 72 hours of being admitted to the hospital are considered HAI.

Of the patients studied by the Kessler researchers, 136 were found to have contracted hospital-acquired infections. Out of those patients, over 60-percent of them had lesions to the left side of the brain. This follows with the hypothesis that a left-dominant brain immune network may influence the occurrence of HAI during inpatient rehabilitation for stroke and traumatic brain injury.

If these findings are supported by further study, the results could help health care providers identify who is more susceptible to brain injury, and well as understand the nature of the immune system a little more.

“Clinicians rarely think about the brain and immunity,” noted A.M. Barrett, MD, “but the balance between left and right brain activity is known to affect our infection resistance. I’m proud to be part of scientific activities that ask these kinds of innovative questions, and get answers that become the basis for new, improved processes for clinical care.”

The Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation is the medical journal of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the findings were reported by Science Daily.

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