A new report by the Institute of Medicine’s committee on Nutrition, Trauma, and the Brain supports the potential role of nutrition in protecting against traumatic brain injury (TBI) and treating its effects. HSPH Research Scientist Xiang Gao, also of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, served on the committee. TBI accounts for up to one-third of combat-related injuries, in addition to as many as 3.8 million sports-related injuries each year.

The report’s authors found evidence suggesting that providing adequate protein and calories to patients soon after a traumatic brain injury reduces inflammation and improves their outcomes. The committee recommends that the U.S. Department of Defense ensure that all military personnel with this type of injury receive a nutritional intervention immediately after the trauma and through the first two weeks of treatment.