Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke


Injury to the central nervous system (CNS) — which consists of the brain and spinal cord — often results in far-reaching physical, emotional, and economic consequences. Each year in the U.S., approximately 2.8 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury, 800,000 have a stroke and 17,000 endure a spinal cord injury.

Unfortunately, there are no effective therapies to treat traumatic brain injury or TBI. While recent therapies that can dissolve blood clots contributing to ischemic stroke show promise, less than four percent of stroke patients are typically treated with this approach. Most investigators recognize the need for further advances in therapeutic approaches for spinal cord injury as well. Overall, the major causes of CNS injury result from pathological biochemical events that remain poorly understood.

Research at the MBI

An important component of research at the MBI is to provide an enhanced understanding of these secondary biochemical events to facilitate development of therapies. Investigators are also attempting to advance biochemically-based diagnostics of acute brain injury. Other research programs seek to  develop novel therapeutic approaches to enhance recovery from CNS injury, and other neurological disorders, using basic and clinical discoveries focused on understanding the physiological challenges of maintaining respiratory motor control.

The goal of all of these approaches, and focused programs and working groups in the MBI that utilize our world-renowned imaging diagnostic facilities and neurotherapeutic development cores, is to improve the quality of life of patients suffering from injuries to the brain and spinal cord.

Breathing Research and Therapeutics Center (BREATHE)

LLed by director Gordon Mitchell, Ph.D., BREATHE is the only center in the US with a unique focus on respiratory neuromuscular function. BREATHE is dedicated to preserving breathing and airway defense in a wide range of severe clinical disorders that threaten life due to respiratory failure, including spinal cord injury and stroke (among other diseases). Members of our Spinal Cord Injury Core have a particular focus on harnessing spinal cord plasticity through intermittent hypoxia or spinal cord electrical stimulation to restore function. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, and with ventilatory failure being the major cause of death in many traumatic, neurodegenerative, and toxic (including opioid overdose) disorders, BREATHE is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of patients and their families.

Brain Injury, Rehabilitation, and Neuroresilience (BRAIN) Center

Led by director Michael Jaffee, M.D., the UF BRAIN Center mission is to foster interactions between brain injury clinicians and researchers, harnessing collective strengths across UF to encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations and innovation in the field. Representing nearly 15 departments and various centers and institutes across the university as well as the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, UF BRAIN Center members are united in their commitment to better understanding and treating brain injury. The center’s primary goals are to address risk factors, improve acute and chronic clinical management, understand and treat long-term effects and comorbidities, and harness the intrinsic capacity for CNS plasticity to improve patient outcomes following brain injury and other cognitive conditions.

UF Health Comprehensive Stroke Center

Led by director Anna Khanna, M.D., the UF Health Comprehensive Stroke Center is certified by The Joint Commission and the American Stroke Association/American Heart Association, due to advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments and staff with unique education and competency standards. The center also boasts a robust research component, including an array of clinical trials available to patients.

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