University of New England Awarded Grant for Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention and Education

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Funds from the Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation will support education and research related to brain safety and trauma.

UNE's Ed Bilsky and Pres. Danielle Ripich (left) receive check from Danielle Goulet and Brad Goulet (right) of the Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation

This generous grant will enable us to expand our education activities around the important issue of brain safety."
-- Ed Bilsky, Ph.D, UNE Director of the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences

The University of New England Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences (CEN) has been awarded a generous grant from the Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation. The grant will help support three projects related to educating students about traumatic brain injury (TBI), including strategies to protect the brain from injury and how to care for patients and families who are recovering from a TBI.

The Foundation was named for Michael T. Goulet, a beloved son, brother and friend whose life was tragically cut short. On February 15th, 2003 as a result of a snowmobile accident, Michael endured a traumatic brain injury. He made a remarkable recovery after undergoing brain surgery, months of intensive rehabilitation, and years of medical care. Subsequent to his recovery, Michael developed a seizure disorder and despite his medical challenges, enrolled at St. Joseph’s College as a psychology major in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of others with experiences like his. Tragically, Michael suffered a grand mal seizure and passed away from complications on October 14, 2010.

The Foundation raises awareness about traumatic brain injuries and epilepsy disorders, provides financial support for afflicted individuals and their families, as well as grants to contribute to medical research and advances in this area.

Brad Goulet, Michael’s father and chairman of the Foundation, states, “On behalf of the Foundation, our donors, volunteers, and our family, it gives me great pleasure to present this grant to the University’s Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences. Our Foundation was founded from a deep personal tragedy and the need to make a difference in people’s lives affected by brain injury and epilepsy. These programs offer an opportunity to make a difference with the greatest impact – prevention – through the Brain Safety Module development, as well as the chance to redefine the model of treatment for patients and families as they migrate from trauma, acute care, rehabilitation, and re-integration through the internship and fellowship programs.”

He adds, “We are very pleased to be working with a local institution and grateful to the University and Dr. Bilsky for their leadership in developing and sponsoring these programs. We look forward to the results of their work and know in our hearts you will make Michael proud.”

Edward Bilsky, Ph.D, UNE’s Associate Provost for Research and Scholarship, and the founding director of the CEN, says “This generous grant will enable us to expand our education activities around the important issue of brain safety. These efforts include outreach to local K-12 communities including Michael’s alma mater, Thornton Academy, as well as in the training of future osteopathic physicians and other health care professionals who have expressed a desire to care for TBI patients. We are pleased to honor Michael’s legacy of dedication, perseverance and hope in the midst of adversity by reaching out to our communities.”

Specifically, the grants support three important CEN programs:

K-12 Education Module on Brain Safety – CEN faculty and students have developed an educational module for K-5, middle and high school students that focuses on brain safety. Through discussions and hands-on activities, the module highlights the fragility of the human brain and the need to protect it from injury (e.g., helmet safety). The module has been field-tested in several local school systems in southern Maine, and the grant will enable it to expand to more schools and include more activities; for example, CEN is developing a module on concussions given the large number of young people participating in contact sports such as ice hockey, football and soccer.

CEN Summer Intern Program– In 2011, CEN launched a summer internship program that introduced high school and college students to the connection between medicine, research and entrepreneurship. Students benefited from an interactive seminar program that included internationally known scientists as well as business leaders in Maine. The program included an associated K-12 outreach component that paired medical students with faculty and undergraduates to develop neuroscience-related education modules for local school systems. Two of the high school interns field-tested the module with UNE’s KidFit summer camp program and continue to work with CEN as liaisons with their school systems. The foundation grant enables CEN to support two additional interns during the program in summer of 2012.
UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine(UNECOM) Student Fellowships in Neurocritical Care and Neurology – The grant will support two additional medical student research fellows in the summer of 2012, which will be awarded to outstanding students interested in pursuing careers in neurology or neurocritical care. The students will be able to participate in research with UNECOM’s established partners such as Maine Medical Center, Togus VA Medical Center, and River Ridge Center.

In collaboration with the Foundation, UNE will present its Tenth Annual InterProfessional Spring Symposium, “Neuroscience Discoveries and Clinical Practice,” on April 5. The symposium will utilize the Goulet family case study for interprofessional roundtable discussions about coordinated brain care. Breakout sessions will address the topics of migraine headaches, neuroplasticity in children, health policy, and health and wellness. Dr. Bilsky will deliver the keynote address, “Coordinated Brain Care: How Neuroscience Discoveries and Interprofessional Practices Can Improve Patient and Population Health.”

About University of New England
Named one of the best regional universities in America by U.S. News & World Report, UNE is a leader in health sciences education, biomedical research and the liberal arts. It offers student-centered, interdisciplinary programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Pharmacy, and the College of Graduate Studies. For more information, visit http://www.une.edu.

About The Michael T Goulet TBI and Epilepsy Foundation
The Michael T Goulet TBI and Epilepsy Foundation is a Maine-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit that aims to provide direct funding and scholarships to those with TBI or epilepsy through local organizations. It also provides grants to contribute to medical advances with the direct intention of making a positive impact on the lives of afflicted individuals. For more information, visit http://www.michaelgouletfoundation.org.

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