Three-year holistic research study into resilience and brain injury

SameYou are funding a groundbreaking three-year study into the biopsychosocial impact of brain injury with Spaulding Rehabilitation, a world leader in advanced rehabilitation treatment and research and the official teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 

The research initiative is led under the auspices of Dr Ross Zafonte, D.O., Senior Vice President Medical Affairs Research and Education at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Dr Zafonte is a renowned traumatic brain injury expert and one of the principle reasons for SameYou partnering with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

“Developing targeting treatments for younger persons with acquired, traumatic, or other brain injuries such as stroke, is a critical part of the future. We need to better understand who is going to benefit from what, and there is so much specificity that we need to learn.” Dr Zafonte says. “As we can build more targeted therapies, there’s an opportunity to transform the biological, psychological, and social side of people after brain injury.”

The study examines the many factors that determine resilience, the body’s ability to respond after a negative event, and how it influences recovery.

The two-phase project begins with focus groups and structured interviews with brain injury survivors in order to better understand their needs.

“We want those people with the brain injury to tell us what we should be researching in this study.” says Dr Michael Bergin, Program Manager on the project. “It’s really important to get the patient-centred view of recovery from injury and associated things that they’re best placed to tell us about.”

Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed for medical research, the research team has been able to find opportunity.

“We were originally planning on having those participants come into Spaulding and interact with the research team in person, but what we decided because of the pandemic was to switch to an online format for those focus groups over Zoom.” Dr Bergin adds. “That allowed us to engage with more people over a broader geographic area and people who may not have been able to come into the hospital.”

The study’s second phase includes in-person visits to Spaulding, where surveys, interviews, and questionnaires allow the research team to understand patient recovery and experiences on a deeper and more personal level.

“We want to understand the impact of resilience on how well people do in their daily life, their psychological health, and how they get on in the world as they interact with others in the community,” says Dr Joe Giacino, Director of Rehabilitation Neuropsychology at Spaulding.

Along with blood draws and neuropsychological tests, the knowledge that comes from this work will support the development of a multidimensional framework of resilience after brain injury.

The team hopes to incorporate this work into more targeted treatments designed to support survivors in their recovery in the future.

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