Researchers at HCMC awarded grants for Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury

by Hennepin Healthcare

Last year the Minnesota State Legislature established the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program (136A.901).   The grants support research into new and innovative treatments and rehabilitative efforts for functional improvement of people with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. The first research grants were announced January 25, and three out of four of the new grants were awarded to researchers at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).

Sarah Rockswold, MD, Medical Director of HCMC’s Traumatic Brain Injury Center, is the principal investigator in the “Neuroimaging and Neurovision Rehabilitation of Oculomotor Dysfunction in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury,” study along with the Center for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research at the University of Minnesota.  The study will focus on documenting the effectiveness of neurovision rehabilitation for patients with mild traumatic brain injuries by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Trauma Medical Director Chad Richardson, MD, FACS was funded for “Traumatic Brain Injury Classification and Outcome Assessment,” which will enable MRI scans of trauma patients already enrolled in a study that includes eye tracking and blood biomarkers.  The goal of the study is to be able to diagnose brain injury more accurately than is currently performed with existing technologies.  “It is not enough to say that someone has a concussion,” said study co-investigator Uzma Samadani, MD, PhD.  “We want to know what type of concussion.”

Samadani is a neurosurgeon and the Rockswold Kaplan Endowed Chair for TBI Research.  She is also one of two principal investigators in a research project with the University of Minnesota’s Dr. David Darrow to study “Epidural Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injury,” which focuses on improving standing in patients with paralysis of their legs. Implantation of an electrical stimulator on the surface of the spinal cord may help restore muscle tone in otherwise paralyzed limbs.

Hennepin County Medical Center is a level 1 adult and pediatric trauma center that assesses more than 10,000 trauma patients annually.  The Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Hennepin County Medical Center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary patient care, education, and research to serve people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Providing a full range of state-of-the-art medical and rehabilitative services, the TBI Center features professionals whose expertise spans the entire continuum of care from prevention to emergency care, neurosurgery, critical care, rehabilitation, and the TBI Outpatient Program for both adults and children. Each year, Traumatic Brain Injury Center professionals care for more than 2,000 patients.