Rehabilitation Medicine Research

The Department of Rehabilitation and Human Performance at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is currently involved in several research initiatives designed to improve our knowledge of disability and how it affects people’s lives.

Currently, our research activities focus on the long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury. Through our research in these areas, we aspire to develop better treatments and therapies for these conditions. Each year, we receive several million dollars of research funding from public and private sources.

The Brain Injury Research Center of Mount Sinai

The Brain Injury Research Center of Mount Sinai (BIRC-MS) is directed by Wayne Gordon, PhD, and Kristen Dams-O’Connor, PhD. We have two major center grants within our research portfolio.

The New York Traumatic Brain Injury Model System

The New York TBI Model System is one of 16 centers across the United States funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). We are currently studying:

  • Treatment of post-TBI, light-related fatigue in people with long-term TBI
  • Online group treatment for people with post-TBI emotional dysregulation
  • Effect of light exposure on sleep during acute rehabilitation for TBI
  • Cognitive testing in the TBI Model System
  • Long-term comorbidity and functional decline following TBI
  • Understanding causes of death in the TBI Model Systems (verbal autopsy)
  • Integrating TBI Model Systems Data into Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR)

The Mount Sinai Injury Control Research Center

The Mount Sinai Injury Control Research Center is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our Center emphasizes better identification of people with TBI, for what is known as mild TBI, as well as better documentation of TBI consequences so that we can work toward reducing those negative consequences.

Other Brain Injury Research Center Studies

The following BIRC-MS studies are funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by our Department’s faculty members.

  • Neuropathology of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Late Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Toward In-Vivo Diagnostics. Our Center is leading this multi-center grant to better define who gets CTE. Is it those who suffer repeated blows to the head (such as football players or boxers), or does it also include people with only a single (or several) brain injuries? Our second goal is to determine whether or not diagnostic indicators of CTE can be found in living people. Currently, CTE can only be definitively diagnosed through autopsy.
    Principal investigator: Wayne Gordon, PhD.
  • Comprehensive Investigation of the Clinical Course of TBI. In this study we are using two existing datasets to model individual outcome trajectories so that we can identify factors associated with heterogeneity and potential intervention targets.
    Principal investigator: Kristen Dams-O’Connor, PhD.

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research

In the Mount Sinai Spinal Cord Injury Program, most recently, our SCI research has focused on exoskeleton-assisted walking. Other areas of interest include modeling rehabilitation outcomes as individual trajectories of change as well as psychometric properties of measurement instruments.