A new federal grant intended to assist in testing new ways to providing specialized traumatic brain injury (TBI) care has been awarded to the Mayo Clinic, headquartered in Rochester, Minn, along with multiple collaborating organizations including the Departments of Health in Minnesota and Iowa, Regional Health in South Dakota, and Sanford Health in North Dakota. 

The $2.2 million grant will reportedly place an emphasis on reaching rural areas and underserved urban populations. Allen Brown, MD, Mayo Clinic physiatrist, director of brain rehabilitation research, principal investigator of the 5-year study, highlights the benefits of early intervention and longitudinal care in minimizing or preventing lasting effects of TBI. However, he notes that providing these benefits is not always easy or feasible. 

To combat this challenge, the randomized clinical trial is intended to test the effectiveness of using modern technologies to create health care networks, using phone consults, eHealth, telehealth, and virtual communication systems.

“Our goal is to test a model of care that delivers specialized brain rehabilitation sources to patients and providers in underserved locations,” Brown says. He adds that the study’s scope encompasses four states, three health systems, and two state departments of health using electronic technology to improve care, “with no face-to-face contact.” 

Brown adds that the trial will test whether outcomes over a 3-year duration are better in the group receiving this model of care than in a group that receives the standard care in their communities. These groups reportedly include individuals in the upper Midwest, such as rural dwellers, older adults, and Native Americans who are at high risk for TBI and are more likely to become isolated after acute care as a result of their impairment, distance from services, and financial concerns. 

Source: Mayo Clinic