Center for Neurological Studies Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

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Director Looks Back on Accomplishments

John D. Russell, executive director of the non-profit Center for Neurological Studies (CNS), remembers the moment well.

“We had just booked our 100 th client, a woman who had been in a car accident and was flying in from St. Louis to meet with our medical staff. It dawned on me, we really were making a difference for persons with head injuries,” said Russell.

Five years since having seen its first client, Russell recounts the CNSs’ accomplishments with pride, accomplishments that include:

  • Participation in five research projects, one involving veterans who’ve survived bomb blasts, one involving retired professional football players, and two involving the impact of concussions on the brain.
  • Presentations before brain injury conferences in six states and New Zealand, including participation in a special symposium in Michigan on traumatic brain injuries among veterans.
  • Testimony before a special Michigan House of Representatives subcommittee on head injuries among combat veterans.
  • Publication of three articles in refereed journals by the Center’s Medical Director and Vice President, Randall Benson, MD. The article detailed the diagnostic benefits of the Center’s advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques.
  • A patient database that spreads across nearly 30 states, all of whom travel to Dearborn to receive the specialized services CNS offers.

But Russell isn’t content with where the Center stands now. He believes firmly the Center’s best days are yet to come.

Manufacturing Exec to Brain Injury Exec: Russell’s Story

Russell retired several years ago from an executive post at one of Michigan’s largest manufacturers. Instead of viewing retirement as a chance to slow down, he saw it as an opportunity to ramp up his involvement in a lifelong passion – the study, diagnosis and treatment of brain injury.

Just after retirement, he helped co-found a 100+-bed behavioral health unit. It was a job he could have continued until he truly retired, but when someone told him about Dr. Randall Benson, Russell’s plans changed on a dime.

“A physician whom I trusted said Dr. Benson was the most knowledgeable brain researcher he’d ever met. When I met Benson, I realized he was right,” said Russell.

When Russell first met Benson, Benson was teaching at Wayne State University and held a number of research posts besides, including research on the lasting impact of multiple concussions on retired National Football League (NFL) players. Benson’s research led him to present before a Congressional subcommittee on football concussions in 2010.

Today, more than 4,000 former NFL players have filed a class-action lawsuit, seeking compensation for their lasting brain injury.

After that first meeting with Benson, Russell convinced him the two should join forces, and CNS was born.

Looking Forward to the Next Five Years

Russell has a number of immediate plans for the Center’s growth, including the addition of post-doctoral researchers to help with the Center’s research, and plans are in the works to bring other medical professionals on staff. The Center also has plans to better use its patent on traumatic brain injury evaluation with advanced imaging. Beyond that, it’s a question of funding.

“There’s amazing research we could be doing,” he said, “but before that, we have to find the funding.” He points to work with hyperbaric oxygen chambers to treat stroke patients as one avenue of study. And patients with multiple sclerosis are seeing tremendous benefit from a procedure practiced in Europe that has gotten little attention stateside.

“Eventually, I see CNS as a clinic where patients can receive the most current diagnostic and treatment protocols available. We’re already using techniques available nowhere else,” said Russell. “And with Dr. Benson and others on the CNS staff, I see that happening very, very soon.”

CNS was founded in 2011 with the objective of advancing scientific research for neurovascular disease. For more information on CNS, reach Russell at (248) 909-8402.

NOTE TO EDITORS: CNS staff are available for interview on brain injuries and brain-related diseases. Topics may include concussions in sports, help for caregivers of loved ones suffering brain disease and concussions among combat veterans. Reach Brent Chartier at (586)996-3221.

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John Russell
Center for Neurological Studies
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