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Traumatic Brain Injury Model System

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Brain Injury Research Center

The Brain Injury Research Center (BIRC) brings together world-renowned investigators to study the complicated facets of recovery from brain injury. BIRC has leveraged resources from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research that predicts participation outcomes after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and leads to interventions that improve these outcomes.

The Brain Injury and Stroke Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann has been designated a Traumatic Brain Injury Model System for nearly three decades.

Researchers at BIRC are developing and testing treatments to improve cognition, emotional wellbeing and participation. Current investigations include trials of pharmacologic and behavioral interventions to improve memory in persons with traumatic brain injury, a psychotherapy trial to decrease emotional distress after TBI, assessment of caregiver outcomes, a trial of a resource facilitation intervention to improve return to work after TBI, and development of a new classification system for persons with TBI that will help guide treatment, among other studies. They have created educational materials on sexuality, social communication and caregiver management of TBI that are used in rehabilitation programs around the world. These resources are available at

Information on extensive educational resources available through BIRC can be found on the BIRC website, The TBI Community. Get more information on BIRC scientists and staff or view recent scholarly publications by BIRC scientists on the BIRC website.

Research Highlights

Multicenter Evaluation of Memory Remediation After Traumatic Brain Injury with Donepezil (MEMRI-TBI-D)


Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) from 2013 to 2018, this study evaluates the effectiveness of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil for improving cognitive memory test performance, everyday memory function and participation outcomes in persons with traumatic brain injury.

Development and Validation of a Classification System of Symptoms and Characteristics to Guide 1959 Treatment Assignment for Persons with TBI Living in the Community

CO-INVESTIGATORS: Angelle Sander, Ph.D., and Lynne Davis, Ph.D.

Researchers are developing a new classification system for persons with TBI who are in the post-hospital period of recovery, a system that will help clinicians conceptualize the key concerns for this population and aid in developing treatment plans. NIDRR has funded the study from 2009 to 2015.

Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Reducing Emotional Distress and Improving Participation in the Community for Persons with TBI

CO-INVESTIGATORS: Mark Sherer, Ph.D., ABPP, FACRM, Allison Clark, Ph.D., and David Arciniegas, M.D.

The major goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a psychotherapy combining acceptance of thoughts and feelings with living out values, for reducing emotional distress in persons with traumatic brain injury. If successful, the study will provide a foundation for future multicenter comparative effectiveness trials in which ACT can be evaluated in comparison to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic medications.