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Department of Education Grant Supports Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Research | NEWS-Line for School and Community Healthcare Professionals

Department of Education Grant Supports Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Research


Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation (BIR) has received a $2.2 million grant extending for another five years the institute’s designation as a National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Model System site for traumatic brain injury.

BIR has held the designation since 2002. The status and funding will help the institute—in collaboration with the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical School in Dallas and John Peter Smith (JPS) Hospital in Fort Worth—continue to generate valuable new knowledge about how to improve the functional outcomes of patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

"This project will support research and training that promotes goals of inclusion, integration, employment and self-sufficiency—ultimately providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities and helping them achieve their full potential," said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The grants are awarded in five-year cycles through an extremely selective process. Each site provides the highest level of comprehensive specialty services, from the point of injury through rehabilitation and community reentry. In addition, they contribute to the national Model Systems Database for a better understanding of long-term health outcomes.

BIR treats more than 200 patients with brain injury annually and, among the 16 Model System facilities, enrolled the fifth most patients in the associated studies. The TBI program is led by physiatrist Randi Dubiel, DO, who specializes in brain injury. The program incorporates a designated team of neuropsychologists and neuro certified physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists and nurses. BIR has been recognized for excellence for 15 years by the US News & World Report Annual Hospitals Guide.

“Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation has reorganized the composition of its model systems team to have researchers and clinicians who can fully explore and optimize TBI outcomes. We appreciate the opportunity to be in the forefront of rehabilitative medicine for this patient population,” said Dr. Amy Wilson, medical director of BIR.

Through the latest grant, BIR, UTSW and JPS will conduct two novel research projects. The first will measure variations in clinical practices and patient outcomes across several rehabilitation centers nationwide, as well as develop a list of evidence-based guidelines for best practices in TBI rehabilitation. The second will identify TBI patients who will benefit from certain medications in their recovery.

Dr. Shahid Shafi, a surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine and a Clinical Scholar at Baylor Health Care System Institute for Health Care Research and Improvement, is the principal investigator on this grant. He said the broad aim of the research is to improve functional outcomes of patients with TBI, which is a leading cause of death, disability and years of productive lives lost in the first four decades of life. It is also a major cause of disability among military personnel.

“Currently, more that 5.3 million Americans live with disabilities resulting from TBI. The result is an enormous psychosocial burden on patients, their families and society,” Dr. Shafi said. “The magnitude of this problem has led to numerous clinical trials aimed at improving survival or functional outcome, yet few effective therapies have been identified.”

The studies are also supported by the Baylor Health Care System (BHCS) Institute for Health Care Research and Improvement (IHCRI), which engages clinical scholars, including Dr. Shafi, that represent a wide range of medical specialties to conduct evidence-based research and medical practice linking advances in medical science with improvement in quality of care.

Other recipients of the Department of Education grant include the Mayo Clinic, Ohio State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, The University of Washington and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

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