Hypothermia has been shown to have neuroprotective effects and may have benefit in the treatment of head injuries. However, it is a controversial treatment in traumatic brain injury, and to date, there are no specific recommendations for its use. This article examines six research studies investigating the use of hypothermia as a treatment in patients with traumatic brain injury. All studies were prospective trials and compared a controlled normothermia group with a hypothermia group. Studies were compared by sample population, methods of hypothermia, outcomes, and conclusions. The leading variable in each study was hypothermia. However, each study used a different method of cooling, goal temperature, and duration of cooling. Through the comparison of these studies, a recommendation for change in practice cannot be made. Nevertheless, there may be benefits to hypothermia in traumatic brain injury, and suggestions for future research are identified.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Kristin Rupich, MSN, at email@example.com. She is a CRNP at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.