The Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury [CASBI] at Weill Cornell Medical College and The Rockefeller University seeks to understand mechanisms of recovery following severe brain injuries and to develop novel therapeutic interventions and strategies. Through translational research and public policy engagement, CASBI works to affirm the rights of individuals with brain injury and overcome the scientific and societal barriers that can limit their maximal integration into our society.
Neurological disease presents a multitude of unique challenges. Developing new approaches to treatment and addressing their societal consequences requires a research program that is highly multidisciplinary, running the gamut from mathematics and biophysics to experimental neurophysiology, clinical neurology, public policy and medical ethics. The Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury (CASBI) and its partnerships with Systems Neurology and Neuroscience Division of the Feil Family Brain Mind Institute at Weill Cornell enables a specialized group of basic and clinical neuroscientists to develop novel strategies for the assessment and treatment of neurologic disease and a team of ethicists and social scientists to ensure the broad impact of this work through advances in public policy. CASBI is unique in integrating this range of expertise and resources for the purpose of addressing the unmet needs of patients with non-progressive brain injuries.
By some estimates, 100,000 people in the United States – and as many as 300,000 – may now be surviving in a chronic minimally conscious state (MCS). Among the many types of brain injury that may result in MCS and produce a slow recovery of cognitive function, the greatest number of patients have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is most commonly caused by automobile accidents. Most recently, these numbers have swelled from the injuries sustained by our wounded warriors coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most TBI victims are otherwise healthy and between the ages of 16 and 24 when injured. In the United States alone, as many as five million people have significant residual functional impairment following TBI. An estimated 90,000 new patients each year may recover from TBI, but do not reach a level of independent living due to cognitive impairments.
Patients with severe brain injuries present particular challenges to the healthcare system. Unfortunately, the complexity of these illnesses has tended to obscure medical understanding of the potential to recover from TBI. Since 2007, Weill Cornell’s CASBI initiative has been at the international forefront in the advancement of research in this area. With a strong foundation in place, there is still much to discover.