News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

March 4, 2013 — Vol. 29 No. 8

Institute of Rural Health Receives $250,000 Grant to Help Brain Injury Victims

As many as 35,000 Idahoans, including soldiers injured in war, may be living with a severe traumatic brain injury, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Idaho's challenge is identifying community resources to assist TBI patients after they leave acute-care facilities and return home to live, said Russell Spearman, a senior research associate in the Institute of Rural Health at the Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center.

Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration or HRSA, Spearman and his research team are a step closer to establishing a trust fund to help ease transition to independent living.

"Our intent is to assist people who've experienced a traumatic brain injury over that first hurdle-to provide financial assistance to help them begin living independently," said Spearman, noting many patients need emergency funds to cover housing and transportation.

Trust funds are accounts established by law and provide time-limited gap financing after exhausting insurance benefits and other community resources, he added.

The $250,000 is an extension of a $1 million HRSA grant awarded to Spearman and the IRH in 2009 to develop a statewide support network to assist TBI patients and their families. HRSA has designated ISU the state's lead agency for TBI education and research.

Spearman and his research team have used the money to build upon the IRH's Traumatic Brain Injury Virtual Program Center and educational webinars for Idaho military personnel returning from active duty and their families. Traumatic brain injury has become the signature wound of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, said Spearman.

For more information about the HRSA grant, contact Russell Spearman at 208-373-1773 or spearuss@isu.edu.