Mount Sinai’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine Receives $6.65 Million in Funding to Support Research on Traumatic Brain Injury

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The Brain Injury Research Center of Mount Sinai has received two prestigious grants totaling $6.65 million to fund research on traumatic brain injury (TBI) over the next five years.

The Brain Injury Research Center of Mount Sinai has received two prestigious grants totaling $6.65 million to fund research on traumatic brain injury (TBI) over the next five years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded the center a $4.5 million grant in continued support of the Mount Sinai Injury Control Research Center. The grant will support four research projects focused on secondary and tertiary prevention of TBI, training programs for graduate students and professionals in the field, as well as outreach activities for professionals and consumers. Additionally, it received $2.15 million in continued funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to support the Mount Sinai TBI Model System which conducts research and provides a comprehensive program of health care to meet the diverse needs of persons who have experienced a TBI.

The principal investigator on both grants is Wayne Gordon, PhD, Jack Nash Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Chief of the Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology service.

The Mount Sinai Injury Control Research Center was initially funded in 2007 by the CDC. The grant renewal will fund the four new research projects through 2017. Mount Sinai is partnering with the Texas Office of Acquired Brain Injury in the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for two of the studies.

  • The first study will use the Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire developed by Mount Sinai, the only scientifically validated screening instrument for history of TBI, to screen 12,000 youths in the Texas Juvenile Justice System, to explore the relationship between youth criminality and TBI. It is the first time the relationship between TBI and criminality will be examined in youth.
  • The second project will evaluate the impact of a behavioral intervention program, shown to improve cognitive and behavioral function in adults on reducing violence and recidivism among youth, with and without TBI, who are on parole in El Paso, Texas. The new study will be the first of an intervention for young offenders with TBI, and it should demonstrate that a low-cost intervention can benefit those with and without TBI.
  • The CDC grant will also fund a longitudinal study of all college athletes at St. John’s University in New York City to document lifetime history of self-reported concussions at time of college admission as well as concussions sustained during college, both on and off the field. About 600-700 participants with and without concussions will be followed yearly for four to five years post graduation to examine the consequences of concussions in areas such as academic performance, post-college employment, driving behavior, alcohol and substance use and mood. A major goal of this study is to document the long-term impact of concussions on adult development and to establish a nation-wide registry of college athletes to document such consequences in larger and more diverse groups.
  • The fourth CDC-funded project will focus on developing methods to better study the accelerated aging and death seen among individuals who sustain a TBI after age 45. The goal is to establish methods for documenting pre-injury health status, for conducting telephone-administered cognitive assessments and for doing verbal autopsies of next of kin.

“All of these studies focus on advancing our knowledge of the biological and behavioral effects of TBI. Ultimately, the data we gather could help us develop more effective treatments for the behavioral consequences of TBI, understand factors associated with accelerated aging in individuals with TBI and begin to develop approaches to the long-term management of individuals with TBI within the newly emerging paradigm of TBI as a chronic illness.” said Dr. Gordon.

The grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which has funded The Mount Sinai TBI Model System since 2002, will support three projects:

  • The first involves continued accession of individuals with moderate-to-severe TBI into a 16-center longitudinal observational study of TBI; more than 11,000 individuals with TBI are currently being followed. Data such as physical function, the nature of the injury, mood, cognitive function, and demographic information are collected while individuals are receiving inpatient rehabilitation and at 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, etc. years post injury.
  • The second project will investigate the efficacy of online emotional regulation treatment for individuals with TBI. This study is the first to examine the use of the Internet as a platform for delivering group treatment. If found to be effective, it will expand treatment options for individuals who do not have access to this type of rehabilitation program due to barriers such as geographic location or lack of transportation.
  • The third study is a randomized clinical trial to examine the effectiveness of bright white light (BWL) in the treatment of post-TBI fatigue, a challenge affecting daily life for up to 80 percent of those with TBI. Fatigue following injury is associated with pain, poor sleep, depression, neurobehavioral dysfunction and reduced quality of life. BWL treatment involves daily exposure to light (typically 30 minutes) using a small light box over a month’s time. BWL has been found to be effective in treating fatigue in those with other medical conditions, but it has never been studied in individuals with TBI.

“If successful, these innovative approaches to treatment could have a profound impact on patients who experience post-TBI emotional dysregulation or fatigue,” said Dr. Gordon. “If found to be effective in individuals with TBI, we hope that these low-cost interventions will be used by other rehabilitation programs across the country and internationally.”

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place.

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Jeanne Bernard