The core areas of research in Carolinas Rehabilitation Research Laboratories are Cognitive Neuroscience, Motor Neuroscience, Rehabilitation Outcome studies and Health Services Research. This lab is actively researching and developing new methodologies and innovative treatment interventions that will translate into state-of-the-science patient care and improve patient outcomes. Research (31 KB, PDF) is aimed at improving function and community participation, while increasing our knowledge of recovery and obstacles to recovery. It is an integrated part of clinical care and resident education.
Mission Statement: To promote clinical excellence, optimize outcomes, determine patient and family needs, and develop and improve treatments for patients in need of rehabilitative services.
Summary of Research and Major Accomplishments: Some of the key programs of our Research Department include the Carolinas Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (TBI), Project STAR, the Human Performance Laboratory (HPL), and the Community Participation Laboratory (CPL).
The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Model System Project at Carolinas Rehabilitation is one of16 centers nationally funded through the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research. The TBI Model System includes a national database and collaborations that allow us to learn about long-term outcomes and problems facing individuals with TBI. The project follows individuals with TBI from the time of injury for a lifetime in an effort to improve TBI care through research. More than 7,000 individuals have been enrolled with data up to more than 15 years after injury. The TBI Model System also makes possible local studies of importance to persons with TBI.
A primary focus of investigation has been post-traumatic irritability. Post-traumatic irritability is a major long-term problem in patients with TBI. Current investigations of irritability include two randomized, double-blind, controlled drug studies of carbamazepine and amantadine hydrochloride to ascertain whether these medications can reduce the frequency and severity of irritability and alleviate caregiver distress. Carolinas Rehabilitation is leading the amantadine hydrochloride study in a multi-center investigation with five other sites in the United States. Carolinas Rehabilitation is also studying irritability through a Participatory Action Research approach. This study actively involves patients with TBI and their families in a rigorous effort to decipher the complex traits of irritability and lead to a better understanding of its triggers and progression in order to develop more effective treatment plans.
Other projects performed through the TBI Model System project at Carolinas Rehabilitation have studied such important brain injury-related issues as:
- Family needs
- Venous thromboembolism
- Changes over time
- Substance abuse
- Outcome measurement
- Gender differences
- Medical issues
- Predicting outcomes and quality of life
- Community services to assist families
- Use of personal digital assistants to increase function
- Post-acute therapy: cost, efficacy, and satisfaction
- Contracture management
- Outcomes for those who don’t receive rehabilitation
Traumatic Brain Injury Project STAR
TBI Project STAR is a state-funded, community-based demonstration program that serves individuals affected by TBI by providing information about brain injury, linking to community resources and opportunities, offering educational training and community program development. The program works to facilitate involvement of individuals with TBI in their communities, through referral programs and community program development.
In this study, pertinent information from individuals and families affected by TBI and service providers is collected through focus groups and surveys. Issues studied include barriers to community participation, sports concussion awareness, community opportunities utilized, substance abuse following TBI and use of state-funded services. Researchers analyze results from these to develop a better understanding of how state-provided services and community agency collaborations can meet the needs of individuals with TBI.
Human Performance Laboratory
The Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) aims to characterize neurophysiologic and biomechanical responses to rehabilitation. The HPL is a laboratory that promotes translational research that:
Community Participation Laboratory
This effort focuses on furthering knowledge and treatments to enhance participation in the community following neurologic injury. A recent focus of the lab has been on irritability and aggression occurring after TBI that may cause social isolation and disrupt interpersonal relationships. Other areas of research include: marriage, depression, outcome prognostication, and long-term outcomes of TBI.
This team represents a wide range of interests and expertise in areas such as pediatrics and adult physical medicine and rehabilitation, health and interpersonal communication research, physical therapy, neurophysiology, biomedical engineering, occupational therapy, biostatistics and public health.
Tami Guerrier, BS, CBIST, Assistant Research Director
Mary Andrews, BS, Research Assistant
Andrew Ball, PT, DPT, PhD, Collaborator
Sheri Bartel, MEd,Research Assistant/TBI Project Specialist
William Bockenek, MD,Spinal Cord Injury and Rehabilitation Research
Denise Consoli, BA, CEAS, Patient and Family Educator
Peggy Cook, BS, CCRP, Research Coordinator CBIS
James Cook, PhD,Collaborator
Christine S. Davis, PhD, Adjunct Research Scientist
George Demakis, PhD, Collaborator
Lori Grafton, MD, TBI Research
Janelle Graves, BS, Research Assistant
Rose Griffin, BS, TBI Community Development Specialist
Mark Hirsch, PhD, Motor Behavioral Neuroscientist
Shilpa Kasuganti, MD,TBI Research
Ryan Kilmer, PhD, Collaborator
Natalie Johns, MSPH, TBI Project STAR Coordinator
Latonya Lofton, MD, Spinal Cord Injury Research
Tiffini Molesky, BS, TBI Community Development Specialist
Vu Nguyen, MD, Stroke Research
James Norton, PhD, Biostatistician
Rashmi Pershad, MPhil, Clinical Research Manager
Vish Raj, MD, Oncology Rehabilitation Research
Sally Rickard, BS, CBIST, TBI Community Development Specialist
William Scelza, MD, Spinal Cord Injury Research
Sara Schara, PhD, Neuropsychologist
Matthew Shall, MD, Rehabilitation Research
Marybeth Whitney, RN, Clinical Research Nurse
Colleen Wunderlich, MD, Pediatric Research
William Setzer, BA, Research Analyst
Jerrilynn Wright, BA, Research Analyst
Carla Kingsbury, BS
Jesse Lieberman, MD, Spinal Cord Injury Research
Karen Harman, Research Assistant
Jennifer Camp, MD, TBI Research
Email: Carolinas Rehabilitation Research
Tax-deductible contributions to the Rehabilitation Research and Education Fund may be submitted via mail:
Rehabilitation Research and Education Fund
c/o Carolinas HealthCare Foundation
P.O. Box 32861
Charlotte, NC 28232-2861
For more information, call 704-355-4048.
- Transcends the boundaries of medical disciplines (i.e., neurophysiology, physics, biomedical engineering, orthopedics, sports medicine, Physical medicine and Rehabilitation, Kinesiology)
- Uses a life-span perspective (i.e., including neonate, pediatric, adult and geriatric patients)
- Serves the needs of persons with diverse pathology (i.e., neurologic, metabolic, orthopedic, or a combination of these, etc).