Psychology researchers awarded $1.8 million NIH grant as part of team studying stroke neuro-rehabilitation

AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Tim Schallert and Dr. Theresa Jones, psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin, along with researchers from the University of Southern California (USC), have been awarded $1.8 million to explore new directions in stroke neuro-rehabilitation.

The grant is part of a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) program designed to encourage interdisciplinary research.

Each year in the United States more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke, and nearly 450,000 survive with some form of neurologic impairment or disability. With the population progressively getting older, and obesity and heart disease on the rise, it is estimated that the number of stroke patients will more then double over the next 50 years, making the need to develop new and innovative rehabilitation programs a national priority.

The team will begin by focusing on rehabilitation strategies for the arm and hand in people who have survived a stroke. The University of Texas at Austin researchers have developed animal models of stroke that investigate the same motor skills strategies that USC’s researchers are using with patients, and will provide new insight into the cellular mechanisms that drive the recovery process. Statistics indicate that almost 80 percent of people who suffer a first-time stroke have impairment of the upper limb that significantly affects functional independence, health and quality of life for stroke survivors. To improve recovery, the team will determine how intense the training should be, what skills need to be focused on, and what the physical therapist’s practice strategies should be.

This new initiative, led by the National Center for Research Resources, is part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. It is one of 21 new grants intended to create what are being called Exploratory Centers for Interdisciplinary Research.

The NIH Roadmap is a series of far-reaching initiatives designed to transform the nation’s medical research capabilities and speed the movement of research discoveries into practice. It provides a framework of the priorities the NIH must address in order to optimize its entire research portfolio and lays out a vision for a more efficient and productive system of medical research.

For more information contact: Dr. Theresa Jones, 512-232-1814.