Innovation and top scientists equal success
Research at the UAB Injury Control Research Center (ICRC) is a dynamic proposition; in its 20+ years of operation, scientists have completed more than 50 research projects. When the ICRC was first funded in 1989, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focused on funding research on primary prevention, acute care of the injured and rehabilitation of the injured. The CDC suggested that the UAB ICRC specialize in rehabilitation research because of UAB’s highly-regarded reputation in this area. Soon, the ICRC had established an impressive roster of scientists who brought their talents to bear on post-injury rehabilitation, and in so doing, earned a national reputation for scientific excellence. In 2002, the Southern Consortium for Injury Biomechanics (SCIB) was formed to work specifically on prevention and amelioration of injuries from motor vehicle crashes. It operates with its own scientists and research agenda; see here for more information.
In the most recent CDC proposal guidelines issued for the 2004 funding cycle, the CDC shifted sharply away from its rehabilitation focus and, instead, requested proposals focusing more on research dealing with behavior and with injuries resulting from acts of violence. Despite its lengthy track record, the ICRC was forced to change with the times or cease being a funded Center. Fortunately, the ICRC’s reputation was such that another roster of highly qualified and innovative scientists was assembled, some from previous projects, many new to the UAB ICRC. With these scientists and its own distinguished leadership, the ICRC developed a successful competitive research agenda for the 2004-2009 funding cycle. In fall 2004, the CDC awarded the ICRC $4.5 million for the new funding cycle.
The theme for the 2004-2009 funding cycle is Injury Over The Life Course. The chart below shows the projects proposed, and how they fit within the theme:
Injury over the Lifecourse Research Projects 2004-2009
Work has begun on all of these projects; one, the Longitudinal Study of Rehabilitation Outcomes, began in 1989 and continues to increase knowledge about the long-term effects of various factors possibly influencing rehabilitation outcomes, such as age of the injured person at time of injury, types of rehabilitation prescribed and family characteristics of the injured. Below is a summary of each of the six funded research projects.
Preventing Youth Violence in Inner City Neighborhoods – The first of two major projects, this research is evaluating the effectiveness of a youth-violence intervention program (Family Intervention Team Program (FIT) in Mobile, Alabama), and is identifying factors that protect youths from becoming victims and perpetrators of violence. John Bolland, PhD, heads this study.
Behavioral Study to Reduce Youth DUI and Risky Driving – The second major project addresses alcohol-related transportation injuries by developing, implementing, and evaluating an intervention targeting young drivers. Researchers are assessing the factors that contribute to the decision by young drivers to drink and drive, and then will work to create and evaluate interventions that are intended to encourage pro-safety attitudes and safe driving behaviors among them. Nancy Rhodes, PhD and David Brown, PhD, head the study.
Pediatric Pedestrian Safety in Virtual Reality: Phase I – This research project addresses pediatric pedestrian safety through the development and use of cutting edge virtual reality technology to simulate traffic crossings and teach children about safe and unsafe crossing conditions. David Schwebel, PhD, heads the study.
Endotracheal Intubation in Traumatic Head Injury – This research project asks whether endotracheal intubation before hospitalization of a patient with traumatic head injury does or does not affect that patient’s long term survival and functional outcome. If it does have an effect, the research project will determine whether it is positive or negative. It will also evaluate the effect of the level of experience the paramedic doing the intubation has on patient outcome. Jeff Kerby, MD, PhD, heads the study.
Problem Solving for Caregivers of Patients with TBI – This research project is a continuation from the 1999-2004 cycle, and addresses an often neglected aspect of problems resulting from catastrophic disability by focusing on caregivers of traumatic brain injury patients. It is developing, implementing, and evaluating the effectiveness of a problem-solving training program for caregivers. Pat Rivera, PhD, heads the study.
A Longitudinal Study of Rehabilitation Outcomes – This research project is the only study carried over from the UAB-ICRC’s original Core Research Program. Among its many valuable contributions to the fields of injury control and rehabilitation research, it established a unique data collection system and analyzed medical record information linked to 12, 24, 48, and 60 month follow-ups of injured patients. By rigorously analyzing and correctly interpreting extensive follow-up data, researchers are identifying factors believed to enhance or inhibit long term, post-injury physical, psychological, and social functioning. Steve Lobello, PhD, and Andrea Underhill, MS, head this study.
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