Grant Will Support Clinical Trials with War Veterans
Brain Plasticity Inc. (BPI), a technology incubator dedicated to the discovery and development of novel technologies that harness the basic principles of brain plasticity to improve the lives of people with neurological and psychiatric disorders, was recently awarded a $2 million grant from the United States Department of Defense.
The grant will fund a two-year clinical trial of an internet-based program designed to improve cognitive function in people suffering from cognitive impairment following mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI) as a result of active duty with the United States Military. The award of this grant reflects the tremendous promise of brain-plasticity-based cognitive training technology, which has already shown to be effective in more than a dozen clinical trials in healthy aging, and is now entering clinical trials in schizophrenia and stroke rehabilitation.
TBI has been described as “the signature injury” of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with an estimated 32,243 thousand soldiers and veterans suffering from head injury in 2010 alone.(1) The consequences of TBI are enormous – the problems with memory, concentration, and thinking that accompany head injury can significantly impair a person’s ability to return to family life, their job, and their role in their community.
Head injury is not a uniquely military problem -1.7 million people in the United States have such an injury every year, and 5.3 million Americans have resulting lifelong disability.(2)
“TBI can ruin lives, and while existing cognitive therapies can be helpful, they are often not enough. Brain-plasticity-based cognitive training offers a fundamentally new approach to treating these disabling injuries, and because it is delivered over the internet, it can reach every soldier and veteran in need,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, Chief Operating Officer at BPI and Principal Investigator on the grant. “We are honored that the Department of Defense has selected BPI and our cognitive training technology for this grant. The trial will allow us to decisively demonstrate that the appropriate type of brain training program can have a significant and long-term impact on the lives of these wounded warriors.”
The grant will fund a trial of 132 people suffering from ongoing cognitive impairment following TBI across five separate locations in the United States, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Tripler Army Medical Center, VA Boston, VA Houston and VA Connecticut. The trial is anticipated to begin enrolling participants this year and be completed in 2013.
The technology used in this trial is derived from similar brain-plasticity-based cognitive training programs developed at San Francisco-based Posit Science, which continues to apply this core technology to develop new training programs that improve cognitive function in healthy individuals seeking to stay sharp and perform at their best.