VCU will lead $50M study of traumatic brain injuries in military personnel

 

A person wearing headphones and a band around their head sits in a chair.

U.S. Army veteran Joe Montanari suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq. In addition to working as the military coordinator for the CENC and LIMBIC grants, Joe also participates in the studies. (Photo by Julia Rendleman, University Marketing)

Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded a $50 million federal grant to oversee a national research consortium of universities, hospitals and clinics that will study the long-term impacts of mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions on service members and veterans.

The principal investigator on the grant is David X. Cifu, M.D., professor and chair of the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and senior traumatic brain injury specialist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Long-term Impact of Military-relevant Brain Injury Consortium (LIMBIC) will study the ongoing health impacts of combat concussions, such as those from blasts, bullets and hand-to-hand fighting as well as vehicle accidents, sports injuries and falls. Researchers from the LIMBIC team have already discovered links between combat concussions and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, opioid usage and suicide risk.

“We are getting a 360-degree overview of all aspects of these veterans and service members, from their brains and nervous systems to emotional well-being to their day-to-day functioning. We’re getting a full look because they’re enrolled in this ongoing comprehensive study,” Cifu said. “This is the largest study of its kind that is entailing a deeper dive and more thorough investigation than any person, patient or even research participant could get. The individual being studied is getting the most comprehensive evaluation of its kind because that is exactly what is required to finally understand these combat concussions and their linkages to symptoms and secondary conditions, like dementia.”

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