A New Learning Program to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury


Each year, about 1.8 million people in North America experience traumatic brain injury (TBI), often from falls, blunt trauma, vehicle accidents, and sports related concussions. Unlike bodily injuries, traumatic brain injuries are difficult to see and measure, yet they can be extremely serious, leading to long-term impairments in judgment, learning, and behaviour. Until recently, little was understood about TBI and even less was known about how to effectively treat this devastating condition. Through the UBC Faculty of Medicine, you can support new research with the potential to improve the lives of people with TBI.

For the first time, Dr. Naznin Virji-Babul, Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Physical Therapy, and her team, including Dr. William Panenka, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Ivan Torres, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and Dr. Alex MacKay, Professor of Medical Physics, have designed a method to look at the brain and pinpoint the complex changes in structure and function that follow TBI. Dr. Virji-Babul and her team aim to use this method to test the effectiveness of an innovative educational program—the Arrowsmith Program—in helping people repair damaged brain structures to improve their recovery and long-term wellbeing. Your support is urgently needed to help this research progress, and Dr. Virji-Babul is seeking a total of $50,000 to expand her novel imaging studies and data analysis activities.

The first stage of Dr. Virji-Babul’s study will bring together new and existing brain scanning technologies with clinical and neuropsychological assessments to measure brain modifications resulting from TBI. These results will help predict the long-term effects of brain injury and help inform new treatment options. Dr. Virji-Babul’s initial research has already shown significant changes in brain structure and function following TBI. She now seeks to expand her findings and formalize her methods into a multi-modal approach for measuring brain injuries.

The second stage of Dr. Virji-Babul’s research will test a learning program as a potential treatment for people with TBI. This study will use the innovative Arrowsmith Program learning technique to measure changes in cognitive function and behaviour after learning. This project has great potential to help rebuild brain structure following TBI and may be the first research to demonstrate a link between learning and brain growth in the injured brain.

Ultimately, your support will help create new healing options for people with TBI. Please make a donation to help expand unique investigations into the brain and improve people’s health outcomes, behaviour, and ability to function after brain injury.