The ABS laboratory strives to decipher the underlying factors related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive aging and develop innovative treatments to improve the lives of those who suffer from it, including our Veteran population. To achieve this, we employ advanced neuroimaging, neuromodulation and proteomics to study cognitive decline, pain, depression and Post-Traumatic Disorder in healthy controls and patients with TBI and other neurological and psychiatric problems. Our strong belief is that real progress in science is achieved by bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to richly solve complex problems and establish long-term relationships with organizations. We are always open to collaborations.
Epidemiological studies: Longstanding work in longitudinal clinical tracking research in TBI/Polytrauma population has led to robust databases at VA Palo Alto. This has allowed ABS lab to employ state-of-the art methodology to track and identify factors underlying the chronic health complaints of TBI patients such: disparities in symptom reporting due to gender, depression, fatigue, sleep, anxiety, PTSD, characteristics of brain injury and headaches. Our work has led to multiple national collaborative efforts and is on the path to translation into clinical practice and policy, particularly in regards to gender differences in TBI.
Diagnostic Endeavors: Advanced neuroimaging (MRI, functional MRI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging) has been a long standing tool of investigation in the ABS lab. We initially worked with the aging population to decipher task-related connectivity patterns that can change in relation to skill-learning, expertise and/or carrying APOE ε4 genetic risk for AD. We then identified neuronal fiber tracts and demonstrated aberrant connectivity patterns in patients with TBI, years after injury. We continue to collect neuroimaging data in our cohorts across several protocols spanning symptoms of pain, depression, and PTSD. We have now joined hands with national and international efforts to use machine learning and AI technology to further characterize diagnosis of TBI in our population with complex health problems.
Innovative Treatments: Our center is the lead in offering world-class innovative treatments to Veterans and civilians with TBI. We have three funded awards for treating TBI and Gulf War Illness Veterans with Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for improving cognition, depression and pain. We currently hold two FDA Investigational Device Exemption (IDEs). We are also investigating the efficacy of Low Intensity Focused ultrasound (LIFUP) with meditation in humans to treat TBI-related headaches. Our collaboration with Silicon Valley industry and Stanford Medical School has created a platform where we are exploring how to use at-home meditation with virtual reality to treat stress and improve mindfulness. We are comparing standard-of-care physical therapy with augmented reality to enhance the biofeedback driven healing mechanisms for treatment of pain.
Translational into Rehabilitation: Based on the reported risks of TBI in the elderly population and our own epidemiological research we have equipped our existing protocols with smart technology to monitor and provide feedback to the patient and the provider. This is done through monitoring heart rate, alert systems for fall and other mobile-driven technologies for assessment of function. We are also initializing our TBI-SCI joint efforts to appropriate assistive technology for elderly and injured using robotics technology.