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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.

collage of a neuron, brain image, and persons undergoing rehabilitation 

At the BRRC, interdisciplinary teams of scientists conduct research to improve the effectiveness of neurorehabilitation. They work to improve current treatments as well as to create new treatments that help restore impairments caused by neurologic diseases and injuries such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury.  BRRC investigators also study how such impairments affect Veterans as they age over time and how to treat those effects.

Our Challenge

For over 100 years, it was thought that recovery from neurologic impairments was limited – full recovery was impossible – and the only option was to compensate for lost abilities. However, neuroscientific discoveries have shown that the brain is remarkably plastic: New connections can form, and neural networks can reorganize. Thus, the plasticity of the brain makes it possible to recover lost abilities.

The BRRC aims to discover activities and treatments that harness neuroplasticity to promote optimal recovery of function. Because of the complexity of the human brain and neurologic impairments, creating treatments that are effective for as many Veterans as possible is challenging. This requires not only the concerted effort of scientists and study volunteers but also the vision of organizations like the VA, which recognizes the importance of this research and provides funding to support rehabilitation science.

data schematics, persons undergoing neurorehab, and a stressed person

Our Funding

The Rehabilitation Research & Development Service (RR&D) of the Veterans Health Administration funds national RR&D Centers in 5-year cycles. At the end of each cycle, Centers reapply for funding through a competitive renewal process.

The BRRC has been funded for 6 successive cycles, from the first cycle beginning in 1999 to the current renewal through 2024.

Our Goal

The ultimate goal of the BRRC is to develop and test treatments that may enable full recovery of the functions and components of function described below.

  Impaired Function
Motor Control Cognition Emotion
Aspect of Life Affected Mobility and independent living Thinking and decision making, which enable daily activities such as driving and paying bills Feelings about the self and identity, ability to cope, and responsiveness to others, which enable motivation and healthy relationships
Treatment Target  ♦ Reaching and grasping
 ♦ Balance and turning
 ♦ Gait coordination
 ♦ Ability to walk about freely
   (“community ambulation”)
 ♦ Attention
 ♦ Goal management
 ♦ Executive function control
 ♦ Anxiety
 ♦ Hyperarousal and sleep disturbance
 ♦ Social communication and expression
    of emotion through face and voice
 ♦ Community participation and

Our Scientists and Science

VA RR&D Centers attract the brightest minds from health care, academia, and industry to develop Veteran-centric rehabilitation programs. 

The BRRC boasts a rigorous preclinical and clinical research portfolio led by scientists with expertise in the following diverse areas that all contribute to neurorehabilitation science in unique ways:

  • Neuroscience and neurology
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and kinesiology
  • Medicine and physiology
  • Neuropsychology and cognitive psychology
  • Bioengineering, communication sciences, and computer and information sciences
Our studies include but are not limited to the areas described below.

Strategy Target BRRC Research Focus Examples
Noninvasive Direct Neuromodulation Promote neural response to treatment  ♦ Transcranial magnetic stimulation
 ♦ Direct current stimulation
 ♦ Vagal nerve stimulation
Innovation and Enhancement Develop new treatments and improve current treatments  ♦ Behavioral and cognitive interventions
 ♦ Community ambulation
 ♦ Drugs
 ♦ Sleep
 ♦ Stress
 ♦ Combined or augmented therapies
Measurement of Loss of and Recovery of Function Optimize treatment effectiveness  ♦ Brain imaging
 ♦ Biological markers
 ♦ Computer simulation of motor control
 ♦ Genetic influences
Translation Advance clinical practice Facilitate the integration of reliable, positive research results into clinical practice

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.

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

Clinical studies with participants  both Veterans and non-Veterans are conducted at the Gainesville VAMC and at the following additional locations:

The BRRC also participates in national multi-site clinical trials and investigations that involve other VA medical centers and universities.