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RR&D Brain Rehabilitation Research Center (BRRC)

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About Us

For a list that includes BRRC studies, click here:  Clinical Trials Search.
Note: The VA neither endorses nor is responsible for information at non-VA websites.

 

At the BRRC, unique teams of scientists conduct research to improve the effectiveness of neurorehabilitation. They work to improve current treatments as well as to create treatment innovations that may restore impairments caused by neurological diseases and injuries such as stroke and incomplete spinal cord injury.

Our Challenge

For over 100 years, it was thought that recovery from neurologic impairments was limited, that the only option was to find a way to compensate for lost abilities. New discoveries over the last 25 years, however, have shown that the brain has neuroplasticity, that is, the ability to grow new connections that may enable recovery of lost abilities.

Dedicated to making complete recovery one day possible for those impaired by neurologic illness or disease, the BRRC is committed to discovering how to harness neuroplasticity. Because of the complexity of the human brain and the many forms of neurologic impairments, creating treatments that are effective for as many people as possible—whether by improving current treatments or discovering new forms of treatment—requires the concerted effort of scientists and study volunteers and the vision of organizations like the VA that recognize the importance of this research by providing funding.

Our Funding

The Office of Rehabilitation Research and Development (RR&D) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides funding to the BRRC as a Center of Excellence. VA RR&D Centers attract the brightest minds from health care, academia, and industry into the VA to provide veterans with the best possible rehabilitation.

Our Goal

To improve the quality of lives of veterans affected by brain disease or injury, the BRRC develops and tests neurorehabilitation methods in order to maximize recovery. The ultimate goal is to find treatments that will result in recovery from neurologic impairments affecting daily activities such as:

  • Understanding speech or speaking clearly
  • Remembering words or expressing thoughts
  • Expressing or understanding emotion in speech
  • Reading or writing
  • Swallowing and coughing, which affect eating and breathing
  • Gripping and using objects
  • Reaching and lifting
  • Walking and balancing while walking or standing

Our Scientists and Science

The BRRC coordinates the efforts of scientists and therapists from many different fields such as: bioengineering, communication sciences, computer programming, health psychology, kinesiology, medicine, neurology, neuroscience, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physiology, psychology, rehabilitation science, and speech therapy.

Our scientists conduct research on evaluation, measurement, and treatment of neurologic problems, for example:

  • Genetic influences on factors affecting recovery such as depression and pharmacodynamics
  • New routines for or new types of physical, speech, swallow, and cognitive therapies
  • Robotics to assist with retraining of upper and lower extremity motor skills
  • Computer simulation to precisely measure motor function
  • Drugs that may enhance the brain's response to physical and behaviorial therapies
  • Brain imaging to detect changes associated with loss of function and with response to therapy
  • Facilitating exchange between laboratory and clinical science to hasten and improve research findings

Our Facilities and Study Sites

The BRRC is a part of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System and is located at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Basic science laboratory research is conducted in BRRC laboratories at the Malcom Randall VAMC and at its university affiliate, the University of Florida.

Clinical studies with volunteers—both veterans and non-veterans—are conducted at the Gainesville VAMC and at the following additional locations:

  • Gainesville, Florida
    • University of Florida
    • Shands at the University of Florida
  • Jacksonville, Florida
    • Brooks Center for Rehabilitation Studies
    • Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital
    • Shands Jacksonville