The Brain Injury Research Center (BIRC) brings together world-renowned investigators to study the complicated facets of recovery from brain injury. BIRC has leveraged resources from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research that predicts participation outcomes after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and leads to interventions that improve these outcomes.

The Brain Injury and Stroke Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann has been designated a Traumatic Brain Injury Model System for nearly three decades, and was funded as a Rehabilitation and Research Training Center of excellence in TBI for over 20 years (1993-2016).

Researchers at BIRC are developing and testing treatments to improve cognition, emotional well-being and participation. Current investigations include trials of pharmacologic and behavioral interventions to improve memory in persons with traumatic brain injury, a psychotherapy trial to decrease emotional distress after TBI, assessment of caregiver outcomes,use of a mood tracker app as health management intervention for emotional distress after TBI, and development of a new classification system for persons with TBI that will help guide treatment, among other studies. They have created educational materials on sexuality, social communication and caregiver management of TBI that are used in rehabilitation programs around the world.

Research Highlights

Multicenter Evaluation of Memory Remediation After Traumatic Brain Injury with Donepezil: THE MEMRI-TBI STUDY WITH DONEPEZIL (MEMRI-TBI-D)

Principal Investigator: David Arciniegas, MD
Co-Principal Investigator:
Angelle Sander, PhD
Co-Investigator:
Mark Sherer, PhD, ABPP, FACRM

Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) from 2013 to 2018, this study evaluates the effectiveness of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil for improving cognitive memory test performance, everyday memory function and participation outcomes in persons with traumatic brain injury.

EFFECTIVENESS OF ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY FOR REDUCING EMOTIONAL DISTRESS AND IMPROVING PARTICIPATION OUTCOMES AFTER TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Principal Investigator: Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM
Co-Investigators: Allison Clark, PhD, Mark Sherer, PhD, ABPP, FACRM, Allison Clark, PhD, and David Arciniegas, MD

The major goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a psychotherapy combining acceptance of thoughts and feelings with living out values, for reducing emotional distress in persons with traumatic brain injury. If successful, the study will provide a foundation for future multicenter comparative effectiveness trials in which ACT can be evaluated in comparison to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic medications.

USE OF A MOOD TRACKER MOBILE APP AS A CHRONIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT INTERVENTION FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS IN PERSONS WITH TBI

Principal Investigator: Mark Sherer, PhD, ABPP, FACRM
Co-Investigators: Angelle Sander, PhD

The goal of this project is to determine the efficacy of self-monitoring of emotional distress using a mobile app with accompanying supportive telephone calls for decreasing emotional distress in persons with TBI.

QUALITY OF LIFE IN CAREGIVERS OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: CAREQOL

Co-Investigator: Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM

The lead site for this study is University of Michigan (PI: Noelle Carlozzi), and TIRR Memorial Hermann is a data collection site. The major goal of this project is to develop and validate a quality of life measure for caregivers of persons with traumatic brain injury. TIRR Memorial Hermann has contributed to focus groups used to generate items for the measure, collection of data for initial validation of the measure, and the final validation phase investigating the relationship of the measure to physical and mental health and to other caregiver burden measures.

EXAMINING DETERMINANTS OF NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTION BIAS IN PEOPLE WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Co-Investigator: Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM

The lead site for this study is Indiana University Medical School (PI: Dawn Neumann), and TIRR Memorial Hermann is a data collection site. The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between anger in people with TBI and how they interpret the intentions of others. If it is found that the way people with TBI interpret the intentions of others is related to their anger, then we can develop treatments to help them more accurately interpret the behaviors of others. This could result in improved social interaction. We are also studying whether interpretations of others’ intentions is related to different thinking abilities that are sometimes affected after a TBI. To help us understand the effect of TBI, we are comparing persons with TBI to people who do not have a TBI.

TEXAS TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY MODEL SYSTEMS OF TIRR MEMORIAL HERMANN

Principal Investigator: Mark Sherer, PhD, ABPP, FACRM
Co-Investigators:
Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM

The purpose of this protocol is to enroll persons with TBI into a national database. The purpose of the database is to collect information on the course of TBI through the continuum of care, including acute trauma care, comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation, post-acute rehabilitation, and long-term outcomes. The database can serve as a resource for investigators at other Model System Centers, as well as persons collaborating with them.

Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury

Co-Investigators: Mark Sherer, PhD, ABPP, FACRM, Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM

The lead site for this study is University of California, San Francisco (PI: Geoff Manley). TIRR Memorial Hermann is an outcomes data collection site. The major goals of this project are to study 3000 TBI patients with longitudinal assessments of advanced imaging, biomarkers, and neurobehavioral testing in order to develop better classification/prognosis for the entire spectrum of TBI severity.

Traumatic Brain Injury Trials

TIRR Memorial Hermann is one of the premier traumatic brain injury rehabilitation facilities in the world. TIRR Memorial Hermann's Brain Injury and Stroke Program has been awarded Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Model System designation, a highly competitive recognition with funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the Department of Education. The TBI Model System grant is lead by neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Sherer, Director of Research for TIRR Memorial Hermann. The Brain Injury Research Center at TIRR Memorial Hermann is funded by multiple grants from NIDRR and is designated as a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Integration of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury.

TIRR Memorial Hermann's Brain Injury and Stroke Program maximizes each patient's outcome by providing specialized medical management, nursing and therapy services in a hospital setting. Comprehensive interdisciplinary care provides reinforcement of treatment goals throughout the day for patients at all levels of functioning. Individual therapy, group treatment and community outings address the patient's functional abilities outside of the hospital.

If you would like to learn more about participating in a research study or clinical trial, you may email us at research@memorialhermann.org.

TIRR Memorial Hermann Research & Clinical Trials