January 30, 2003
Methodist Rehabilitation Center named one of only 16 traumatic brain injury model systems in nation
By Collin Johnson and Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center has been named one of only 16 traumatic brain injury model systems in the nation by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The designation provides a $1,825,000 grant that will allow Methodist researchers to continue brain injury research begun four years ago when the Jackson hospital first became a TBI model system site.
NIDRR has reduced the number of model system grants from 17 to 16 and competition for the designation was intense.
“The top institutions in the nation competed for this grant,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of Methodist Rehab. “Receiving the award for the second time in four years signifies the importance of the research being done here.”
Methodist Rehab researchers will use the grant to begin three new projects to evaluate brain injury treatments to improve the quality of life and overall outcome for patients. About 88 percent of the cost of these projects will be financed by the grant. Additionally, 12 percent, or $252,000, will be paid for by an in-kind contribution from Methodist Rehab.
“This research will result in better care not just here in Mississippi but all around the country,” said Dr. Mark Sherer, director of Neuropsychology at Methodist Rehab and principal investigator for the TBI Model Systems grant.
Those projects will include studies into the treatment of confusion after a TBI, improving the relationships between patients and therapy teams in a post-acute setting and a study characterizing different types of motor impairments in TBI patients.
“We believe that more study needs to be directed at physical impairments that commonly accompany severe brain injury,” said Dr. Stuart Yablon, medical director of the brain injury program at Methodist Rehab and project medical director of the TBI model system.
"Beginning with the previous grant cycle, we worked with our colleagues at the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery here at Methodist Rehab to better understand the nature of these physical impairments. We hope that by better understanding different types of physical disorders in our patients, we’ll be able to better determine how different treatments affect these different conditions,” he added.
A traumatic brain injury occurs when an outside physical force impacts the head and causes damage to the brain. This damage results in a diminished or altered state of consciousness for varying lengths of time and impairment in thinking, physical movement or behavior.
“More Americans will suffer brain injuries this year than will be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and multiple sclerosis combined,” said Dr. Sherer. “It is essential that people do all they can to protect themselves to avoid these often life-changing injuries.”
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate at least 1.5 million Americans will suffer a TBI this year. Of those, about 90,000 will suffer a long-term disability and more than 50,000 will die.
Physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center play a vital role in the success of the TBI Model System project. They identify patients at UMC who are appropriate candidates for various TBI studies and ensure model system protocols are followed during their treatment. When medically ready, patients are transferred to Methodist for rehabilitation.
Dr. Domenic Esposito, Director of Neurotrauma and assistant professor of neurosurgery at UMC, said a combined commitment to excellence was responsible for the continued funding of Mississippi’s TBI model system. “I think NIDRR realizes how dedicated this group is and how much we can accomplish working together.” Dr. Esposito serves as principal investigator for the UMC portion of the grant.
“We are pleased that our partnership with Methodist Rehab is going to continue for another five years,” said Dr. Ahmed Badr, director of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit and associate professor of neurosurgery and anesthesiology at UMC. “The work we are doing together is vitally important and will affect the way brain injuries are treated in the future.”
Because a brain injury can cause physical changes to the brain, the ability to think, move and feel may be affected. Some of the resulting problems are apparent while others are less obvious. The complex needs of a person with brain injury demand the intervention of specialized rehabilitation professionals, an intensive brain injury treatment program and state-of-the-art rehabilitation medicine and research—all of which can be found at Methodist Rehab.
The TBI model system program was created by the U.S. Department of Education and NIDRR in 1987 to examine the course of recovery and outcomes for patients with TBIs. Model systems provide a coordinated system of emergency care, acute neurotrauma management, comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation and long-term interdisciplinary follow-up services.
Here in Mississippi, the model system designation helps physicians at Methodist Rehab offer better care for both current and former patients.
“This grant allows us to better track patients so we can keep up with them and their needs. It also allows us to provide better educational programming for both patients and for family members who may be providing care,” said Dr. Sherer.
Being one of only 16 model systems in the country puts Methodist Rehab in a circle of knowledge and makes communication easier, he said.
“This is an important achievement for Methodist Rehab and for the state of Mississippi,” said Adams. “We are in the same category as some of the largest and most prestigious research centers in the world.”
For more information:
Methodist Rehab keeps model status | The Clarion-Ledger
Methodist Rehabilitation Center