Last year, Virginia Commonwealth University received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s NIDRR (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research) in order to research possible cures for traumatic brain injuries. The program, one of only sixteen in the United States, will maintain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Model System to facilitate studies into TBI treatments and remedies.

TBI Model Systems must develop and implement a system that meets the complex needs of TBI victims; such needs include emergency and acute medical services, along with rehabilitative services. A Model System must also recruit and enroll enough participants in order to facilitate adequate and extensive research into traumatic brain injuries; the research areas are established by the NIDRR and include TBI-related community living, technology, employment and other concerns.

The NIDRR has stipulated that VCU’s focuses are to be the improvement of adjustment and resilience of TBI sufferers, as well as the improvement of relationships between couples who are affected by TBI. Due to the cognitive, emotional and behavioral difficulties due to TBI, the adjustment period for victims can be taxing; VCU will establish a regularly-scheduled rehabilitation program for participants in order to assist with the transition. As well, since loved ones can play such a vital role in the recovery process, the couples program will ensure that spouses and significant others are well-educated and –informed in order to provide support and assistance to TBI victims.

The program will recruit patients in the inpatient rehabilitation program at VCU’s medical center and follow them at intervals for the first ten years, with further study being conducted at five-year intervals.

Data from the various programs around the country have been used in a number of studies; the data are drawn from the National Database to which VCU will contribute. VCU has already contributed data in the way of TBI hospitalization, outcomes for older adult victims, employment, community integration and other areas.

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Jennifer H. Marwitz, M. (2013, Fall). Overview of the Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Progam at Virginia Commonwealth University. Headway, pp. 14 – 15.