University of Mississippi Among First in the Nation to Launch New Ph.D. Program Aimed At Helping Those with Traumatic Brain Injuries Recover

The potentially devastating impact of concussions and other head injuries has made headline news in recent years due, in large part, to the prevalence of these injuries amongst football players and military personnel. In light of increasing number of concussions each year and new research on the long-term impact of such injuries, the University of Mississippi’s School of Education has launched a new Ph.D. program which includes a neuroscience component.

This revolutionary program is only one of three in the nation. Its aim is to train educators to help victims of traumatic brain injuries recuperate more fully. The program’s unique focus on educating those with brain injuries stems in part from Chancellor Dan Jones’ interest in the area. Dr. Jones is a medical doctor and leader in the local movement to prevent and better understand concussions. As such, the Education Department’s new curriculum trains educators to use therapies that include language, mathematics, and other subjects to help speed recovery. The program is broken down into several components, with one focusing on how the brain works and other dealing with behaviors, literacy, and diversity. Neuroscience is a vital part of each component.

Roy Thurston, a UM assistance professor of special education, developed the current neuroscience program. Thurston has extensive experience researching the cognitive rehabilitation of those with brain injuries as well as application of neuroscience to education.

The focus of the program is on helping brain injury patients exercise their brain. This has been proven to sped recovery and lead to increased levels of functioning. These therapies are of particular use for college and professional football players who experience concussions at alarming rates. Another focus is on war veterans who frequently return from combat with head injuries.

UM’s education program is a just a part of the larger movement towards better recognition and treatment of concussions. Previously, sports leaders shunned the idea that concussions were particularly common or dangerous. College and pro football players had to experience devastating injuries before the true nature and frequency of concussions during the game was acknowledged. The attitude in youth sports was no different, with children benched for one play then sent back into the game even after clearly sustaining hard hits. Further, outside the playing field, war veterans were another group of Americans commonly overlooked when it came to concussions.   We now know that over 22% of all combat injuries are traumatic brain injuries.

Research today has helped us to better understand the true nature of a concussion. A concussion can occur when the head strikes an object or, vice-versa, when an object strikes the head. This results in the individual’s brain, enclosed by fluid, actually shifting in the skull. Upon impact, billions of brain cells illuminate at the site of the injury. These cells then work to regain equilibrium. This process can take just a few hours or can never fully be accomplished. While the brain is working to restore itself, a host of side effects can be experienced, such as holes in one’s memory, pain from bright lights, and diminished focus. Programs like that at UM are part of cutting edge research which indicates that the correct education for traumatic brain injury patients can help them to recover quicker and more completely.

If you have experienced a traumatic brain injury due to an accident, call the brain injury experts at Giddens Law Firm. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries require the assistance of an attorney team with an intricate knowledge of this complex field. Giddens Law Firm has over 20 years experience working with those suffering from concussion injuries. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.