Optimizing neuro-intensive care of traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity, especially among younger persons. The most severe brain injured require neuro-intensive care. The complex, noisy and data rich streams from clinical multi-modal monitoring in the neurointensive care unit (NICU), in the notoriously heterogeneous TBI population, are particularly hard to interpret and are poorly understood or validated. A better understanding of the patho-physiology is needed to steer current and future treatments.

Research project

Dr David Nelson is a senior consultant in anesthesia and intensive care working at the neuro-intensive care unit (NICU) at the Karolinska University Hospital, and conducts his research through Karolinska Institutet.

The NICU is research intensive and studies many aspects of traumatic brain injury from cellular response, biomarkers and multi-modal monitoring, to large data-based outcome prediction analyses. Dr Nelson's focus is on applying non-linear multivariate analyses methods from other fields of bioinformatics, to such TBI data. It is probable that composite patho-physiological states, and state changes, need to be identified to understand involved processes in critically ill. This could also be crucial to future TBI drug development.

David Nelson's research has focused on applying machine learning pattern recognition techniques to data streams from multi-modal monitoring, particularly cerebral micro-dialysis, and computed tomography, laboratory values and epidemiological data. His research is currently focusing on TBI biomarkers, large TBI database projects from the Karolinska Head injury registry, and the international IMPACT TBI database.


  • Dr Bo-Michael Bellander, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet
  • Professor Eddie Weitzberg, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet
  • Dr Anders Holst, Swedish Institute of Computer Science
  • Dr Bob MacCallum, Imperial College London
  • Dr Eric Thelin, doctoral student, Karolinska Institutet
  • Professor Andrew Maas, University Hospital Antwerp


Multivariate outcome prediction in traumatic brain injury with focus on laboratory values.
Nelson D, Rudehill A, MacCallum R, Holst A, Wanecek M, Weitzberg E, et al
J. Neurotrauma 2012 Nov;29(17):2613-24

Analyses of cerebral microdialysis in patients with traumatic brain injury: relations to intracranial pressure, cerebral perfusion pressure and catheter placement.
Nelson D, Thornquist B, MacCallum R, Nyström H, Holst A, Rudehill A, et al
BMC Med 2011 Mar;9():21 

Extended analysis of early computed tomography scans of traumatic brain injured patients and relations to outcome.
Nelson D, Nyström H, MacCallum R, Thornquist B, Lilja A, Bellander B, et al
J. Neurotrauma 2010 Jan;27(1):51-64

Cerebral microdialysis of patients with severe traumatic brain injury exhibits highly individualistic patterns as visualized by cluster analysis with self-organizing maps.
Nelson D, Bellander B, Maccallum R, Axelsson J, Alm M, Wallin M, et al
Crit. Care Med. 2004 Dec;32(12):2428-36

Contact us

Assistant professor

David Nelson

Organizational unit: Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (FYFA), C3
E-mail: david.nelson@ki.se