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Study Expands Knowledge of Cognitive Fatigue in Brain Injury

2011-03-16 16:12:10 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Innovative study utilized fMRI to compare brain activation during cognitive tasks in people with and without brain injury.

June 24, 2009 Study Provides Insight into One of the Most Challenging Symptoms Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Advancements Could Improve the Quality of Life of Injured Veterans

West Orange, NJ – June 11, 2009 – A recent study by Kessler Foundation Research Center published in Brain Injury, the official journal of the International Brain Injury Association, uncovered the possible cause of cognitive fatigue in patients suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Cognitive fatigue has been shown to be one of the most challenging symptoms following TBI, greatly affecting everyday life activities such as work and school. The study also addressed the difficult task of measuring cognitive fatigue through the use of functional MRI (fMRI), an advanced imaging technology. In addition to civilians with TBI, methodology from the study could potentially be used in VA Hospitals to improve the lives of the estimated 300,000 U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who suffer from brain injury. Cognitive fatigue is a highly prevalent condition, with 73 percent of TBI patients reporting significant levels of fatigue even five years post-injury.

"Cognitive fatigue has been shown to be one of the most debilitating symptoms after a traumatic brain injury. It can hinder every aspect of a person's life," stated John DeLuca, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at Kessler Foundation Research Center. "The study could potentially improve the quality of life for civilians and veterans with TBI as well as stroke survivors and individuals with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and AIDs."

A roadblock in the progress for treating patients for cognitive fatigue is the lack of proven assessment tools. Researchers have been struggling for nearly a century to find ways to measure and diagnose cognitive fatigue. Common methods include self-reporting and objective assessments; however, the many limitations associated with both methods have hindered advancements in research and ultimately patient rehabilitation. This study offers a new and innovative paradigm to investigate brain activation during a cognitive task.

Dr. DeLuca was senior author of "The Neural Correlates of Cognitive Fatigue in Traumatic Brain Injury Using Functional MRI" (Kohl et al, Brain Injury 2009;23(5):420-32), which details how fMRI was utilized to assess cognitive fatigue in people with TBI while they were performing behavioral tasks Researchers compared the readings of eleven healthy controls with those of eleven participants with moderate to severe TBI. The fMRI images illustrated increased brain activity in the patients with TBI, which indicates greater cerebral effort indicative of cognitive fatigue.

"This unique study expands our understanding of how TBI alters brain function and introduces a new approach for future studies," said Rodger DeRose, president and CEO of Kessler Foundation. "This is just one example of the advances in rehabilitation research being achieved at Kessler Foundation Research Center," DeRose added, "where our clinical scientists are making discoveries that improve quality of life for people with disabilities caused by TBI, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other chronic neurological and musculoskeletal disorders."

Kessler Foundation Research Center is a leader in the area of traumatic brain injury research. Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Kessler Foundation Research Center is one of 14 federally funded TBI model systems in the nation. Model Systems are comprehensive networks that promote independent and collaborative research that will improve the national standard of care for individuals with this devastating injury.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, established in 1985, is one of the largest public charities supporting people with physical disabilities. The Foundation's mission is to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities by raising, managing and distributing resources to support Kessler Foundation Research Center, its cutting-edge research facility and by supporting the efforts of other non-profit organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. Kessler Foundation Research Center conducts a range of research initiatives designed to improve function and quality of life for persons with physical disabilities due to spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other chronic neurological and orthopedic conditions. Kessler Foundation also supports programs that promote the employment of people with disabilities through its Program Center's "Transition to Work" Signature and Community Employment Grants. The Foundation's Special Initiative Grants also support educational programs like 'ThinkFirst', an injury prevention program aimed at children and teens. Kessler Foundation has a full-time staff of 90 individuals, divided between two locations in West Orange, New Jersey.

Visit us at KesslerFoundation.org.