[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 5-Jan-2011
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The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Mount Sinai develops first screening tool for war veterans to assess traumatic brain injury

A team of researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has developed the first web-based screening tool for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This instrument has recently been used by soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who participated in the Sixth Annual Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute in Orlando to determine if they sustained a TBI.

"Traumatic brain injury is underdiagnosed, and left untreated can have long-term cognitive, behavioral and physical effects," said Wayne Gordon, PhD, the Jack Nash Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and an Associate Director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who led the project. "If we can intervene and diagnose TBI early, then we can prevent further complications."

Dr. Gordon and his team began working on this screening tool 20 years ago. Working in local schools, they found a surprising number of students with TBI but never reported it nor received medical attention, often because the injuries were sustained as a result of abuse or assault. Dr. Gordon wanted to develop an anonymous screening tool to help people assess their risk and avoid long-term complications.

The Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire (BISQ) is a web-based tool that allows users to anonymously answer a series of questions about whether they sustained a blow to the head in which they were unconscious or dazed, confused or disoriented. Their symptoms include sleep disturbances, irritability, memory disturbances, difficulties organizing daily tasks, and difficulty concentrating. At the end of the survey, participants receive a computer-generated report. Those who are found to be at risk are advised to seek further evaluation from a qualified health care professional.

According to Mark Wiederhold, MD, who presented at the conference, TBI was diagnosed in 41 percent of patients being treated in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Dr. Gordon hopes that more veterans' organizations will embrace the tool in this population so that they are treated early.

"I applaud the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes and The American Legion for taking the first step toward bringing this serious issue to the forefront, and encouraging veterans to get screened," said Dr. Gordon. "I hope more organizations around the country will follow suit."

It is estimated that about seven percent of people in the United States have diagnosed or undiagnosed TBI. Dr. Gordon and his team from the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mount Sinai plan to conduct research using the screening tool in other populations as well. The researchers are using BISQ to assess TBI in the prison population in Texas to determine how the condition may contribute to criminality.

The software is $15.00. For more information visit http://www.mssm.edu/research/centers/traumatic-brain-injury-central.

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About the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine is one of the oldest in the United States, and the only federally designated Model System of Care in New York State for spinal cord injury as well as traumatic brain injury. On December 5, 1910, the Department of Physical Therapy was established at The Mount Sinai Hospital and since that time has evolved into a comprehensive, interdisciplinary rehabilitation center. The interdisciplinary team includes physicians, primary rehabilitation nurses, nurse practitioners, and professional staff in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutrition, social work, psychology, therapeutic recreation, and vocational counseling. This approach takes advantage of each discipline's expertise in providing quality care and cutting-edge treatments.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation's best hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place.

For more information, visit www.mountsinai.org. Follow us on Twitter @mountsinainyc.



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