UM/Jackson Rehab Medicine awarded prestigious grant

The rehabilitation medicine team at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in conjunction with Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital, has been awarded a federal Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) grant of more than $2 million.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the five-year grant will enhance rehabilitation services and research aimed at meeting the special needs of individuals with brain injuries as they progress through the clinical continuum, from emergency care to rehabilitation and community reentry.

The highly competitive selection process for the prestigious U.S. Department of Education funding resulted in UM/Jackson being the only Florida award recipient, making it one of just 16 sites nationally that were awarded the grant.

Last year, UM/Jackson also was awarded a Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems program grant, which is directed by Diana Cardenas, MD, MHA, chair of rehabilitation medicine at the Miller School of Medicine and chief of rehabilitation at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“This will make us one of a select group of rehabilitation medicine departments in the country that have both a spinal cord injury and a traumatic brain injury model system program,” Cardenas said.

The centers selected for this grant provide a multidisciplinary system of rehabilitation care, including emergency medical, acute care and comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation. In addition to delivering direct services, these centers play a pivotal role in building the national capacity for high-quality treatment and research serving people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), their families and the communities in which they reside.

More than 1.5 million Americans are estimated to sustain a traumatic brain injury requiring medical attention each year, according to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. A TBI is defined as damage to the brain caused by an external force as evidenced by altered consciousness and impairment of brain functioning.

After the initial medical crisis, TBI presents significant challenges to the individual, their family and society. An injured person may experience a wide range of physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes that affect their ability to function. Financial hardship, substance abuse, anxiety and depression are some of the common problems experienced by individuals following a TBI.

Doug Johnson-Greene, PhD, MPH, ABPP, associate professor and associate vice chair of rehabilitation medicine at the Miller School, and his team will partner with Jackson Health System, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami and a number of community organizations — including the Brain Injury Association of Florida, Florida Department of Health’s Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program, and the WellFlorida Council — to establish the South Florida Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (SF-TBIMS).

“This grant represents significant recognition of our innovative research in traumatic brain injury and excellence in clinical care for the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the University of Miami,” said Johnson-Greene, who is principal investigator.

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