Radha KorupoluRadha Korupolu, MD, MS, associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and an attending physician in the Spinal Cord Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health R34 planning grant to examine mindfulness meditation training in patients with spinal cord injury who are also experiencing chronic pain. The three-year, $714,096 grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health will fund a pilot study.

Dr. Korupolu and her team report that chronic pain after spinal cord injury can be debilitating and lead to multiple other complications, such as depression, anxiety and poor health-related quality of life. Current therapeutic options include pain medications such opioids, which can have significant side effects in this population.

“The literature suggests that mindfulness-based interventions can improve pain and mood,” Dr. Korupolu says. “However, given significant barriers related to travel to attend in-person sessions, there is a need to test the feasibility and acceptability of remote delivery of these interventions.”

The study will use a mobile application known as “Mindfulness Coach,” which was created by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, and a TED Talks application to deliver control intervention for six weeks. Participants can complete all aspects of this intervention from home without the need to travel. Both applications used in the study are publicly available and free.

The study began in November 2022 in collaboration with Chelsea Ratcliff, PhD, from Sam Houston State University, as a multiple principal investigator . Co-investigators are Susan Robinson-Whelen, PhD, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine and an investigator at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Spinal Cord Injury and Disability Research Center (SCIDR) and Heather Taylor, MS, MEd, PhD, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at UTHealth Houston and director of the Texas Model Spinal Cord Injury System and SCIDR at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

Spring 2023 Edition
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For the 34th consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 4 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.

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