UT Dallas researcher secures $2.7m grant to better monitor and address TBI-related cognitive and functional deficits

-- Drs. Dan Krawczyk and Kihwan Han review MRI scans. Credit: Center for BrainHealth, Randy Anderson

– Drs. Dan Kraw­czyk and Kih­wan Han review MRI scans. Cred­it: Cen­ter for Brain­Health, Randy Anderson

Sci­en­tist Gets Grant for Study of Vet­er­ans with Trau­mat­ic Brain Injuries (UT Dal­las release):

A researcher from the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at UT Dal­las has been award­ed a $2.7 mil­lion grant from the Depart­ment of Defense (DoD) under the Joint Warfight­er Med­ical Research Program.

The grant, award­ed to Dr. Daniel Kraw­czyk, deputy direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Brain­Health, will fund research, via a vir­tu­al tech­nol­o­gy plat­form, to improve cog­ni­tive and func­tion­al deficits for vet­er­ans who have expe­ri­enced trau­mat­ic brain injuries (TBI).

The project is a fol­low-up effort from a Cog­ni­tive Reha­bil­i­ta­tion for Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury Clin­i­cal Tri­al Award pre­vi­ous­ly giv­en by the DoD’s Psy­cho­log­i­cal Health and Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury Research Pro­gram. It was con­duct­ed under the strate­gic over­sight of the DoD’s Clin­i­cal and Reha­bil­i­ta­tive Med­i­cine and Mil­i­tary Oper­a­tional Med­i­cine Research programs.

Those who expe­ri­ence a trau­mat­ic brain injury often strug­gle with work­ing mem­o­ry, plan­ning and cog­ni­tive con­trol, which impacts real-life func­tion­al­i­ty,” said Kraw­czyk, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gy and Deb­bie and Jim Fran­cis Chair in the School of Behav­ioral and Brain Sci­ences. “Uti­liz­ing an inno­v­a­tive vir­tu­al-real­i­ty plat­form, we hope to improve cog­ni­tive dif­fi­cul­ties in indi­vid­u­als with chron­ic TBI by train­ing strate­gies to accom­plish com­plex real-life tasks.”

The study will include more than 100 vet­er­ans, regard­less of ser­vice sta­tus, who have sus­tained trau­mat­ic brain injuries. The research team will col­lect struc­tur­al and func­tion­al brain imag­ing, and neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions from par­tic­i­pants before and after training.

The team also will use Expe­di­tion, a vir­tu­al-real­i­ty plat­form devel­oped by Vir­tu­al Heroes, a divi­sion of Applied Research Asso­ciates Inc., to estab­lish train­ing remote­ly over a four-week peri­od. The real-life train­ing sce­nar­ios include pack­ing for a trip, plan­ning and exe­cut­ing var­i­ous modes of trans­porta­tion, select­ing and remem­ber­ing loca­tions as well as mon­ey and time management…

The unique design and approach of Expe­di­tion may also pro­vide for quan­tifi­able per­for­mance data through­out the inter­ven­tion itself, not just the tra­di­tion­al ‘before’ and ‘after,’” Kraw­czyk said. “The pos­si­bil­i­ty of get­ting a peek inside the his­toric ‘black box’ of trau­mat­ic brain injury research may assist in the devel­op­ment of more effec­tive or cus­tomiz­able inter­ven­tions and more sen­si­tive eval­u­a­tion methods.”

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