September 9, 2003
Model system designation helps Mississippi patients receive cutting edge care for traumatic brain injuries
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—If Tucker Hoge of Brandon ever needs extra credit in science class, the 16-year-old can mention that he’s doing his part to improve the care of traumatic brain injury patients.
Data gathered during Hoge’s recovery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson has been included in the Traumatic Brain Injury Model System database. Scientists across the United States use the national database to research ways to improve rehabilitation outcomes.
Hoge, who sustained a brain injury during a January car wreck, became a part of the database because Methodist Rehab is one of 16 centers in the nation selected a model system by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. As such, Methodist receives $1.8 million over a five-year period to fund TBI research.
Dr. Mark Sherer, director of neuropsychology at Methodist, said the hospital’s role as a model site is twofold. “We contribute data to the national database, and we are the lead center on several research projects based on that data. We also do local research projects.”
Among the new projects for this funding cycle are:
- A medication trial for the treatment of acute confusion after a TBI
- A study on the diagnosis and treatment of motor disorders
- A study on how the relationship between the therapist and patient affects the outcome of therapy.
As research collaborators for the model system, the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg help identify possible participants for the model system. “Our role is helping with data collection and letting patients’ families know about the program,” said Frances Spinosa, a neurosurgery nurse specialist with UMC’s department of neurosurgery. “Patients that we sent to Methodist who have gone through the model system program have had wonderful results.”
To be in the model system, TBI patients must be at least 16, be seen in a trauma center at UMC or Forrest General within 24 hours of injury and come to Methodist for TBI rehabilitation within 72 hours of leaving acute care.
Patients benefit from the model system because the setup ensures a better continuum of care, Sherer said. “Just the fact that patients are involved in projects here means there’s more scrutiny, more communication, more coordination and more follow-up.”
Sherer said the studies being conducted at Methodist reflect the true concerns of people with TBI because they’re inspired by the actual experiences of patients and their families. “At some sites, they have mainly researchers. We are one of the sites where the researchers also treat patients, which we think is an advantage. We study what patients and families tell us they are concerned about. We’re doing the study on acute confusion because at present there is no standard way of treating patients with confusion. What we learn will contribute to a better understanding of how to treat these patients and will benefit our patients and patients all over the country and the world.”
Having clinicians as researchers also means knowledge gained in the lab can immediately be applied to patient care. And that gives Mississippians access to therapies that are on the cutting edge, Sherer said. “If our research tells us that a certain medication helps people get better faster, we will be prescribing that medicine,” Sherer said.
To keep other health care professionals abreast of advances, Methodist researchers frequently publish articles in medical journals and do presentations all over the country, Sherer said. “In 2002, we did nine presentations at national meeting and we’ve done 10 already in 2003. We also provide local education programs and workshops, and we’re developing a comprehensive TBI website.”
Tucker Hoge is back on the field after recovering from a traumatic brain injury at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.