BRAIN Lab

Brain Research for Aphasia and Intensive Neurorehabilitation - BRAIN Lab

Mission

The mission of the Brain Research for Aphasia and Intensive Neurorehabilitation (BRAIN) Lab (P.I. Catherine Off, Ph.D.) at the University of Montana is to investigate the influence of intensive speech, language, and cognitive communication therapy on stroke and brain injury rehabilitation for both the patients and their caregivers. 

People and Projects

Dr. Catherine Off is the director of the BRAIN Lab and Associate Professor.

Jenna Griffin is a speech-language pathologist, Clinical Assistant Professor, and director of the Big Sky Aphasia Program.

Collaborators:

Dr. Kristen Murray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling at the University of Montana. As a collaborator with the BRAIN Lab, she guides psychosocial well-being and mental health for our participants and examines the influence of group counseling for caregivers of stroke and brain injury survivors.

Dr. Lisa Milman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Utah State University. As a collaborator with the BRAIN Lab, she guides assessment of outcomes for stroke survivor participants and analysis of those outcomes. She is also investigating long-term outcomes of a telepractice group for stroke survivors with aphasia.

Dr. Victoria (Tori) Sharp is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Idaho State University. As a collaborator with the BRAIN Lab, Dr. Sharp implements a modified Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAP) at Idaho State University and contributes her expertise in aphasia management.

Dr. Jessica Brown is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona. Dr. Brown is collaborating with the BRAIN Lab in an effort to develop clinically sound assessment and treatment procedures for individuals with post-concussion syndrome.

Dr. Kelly Knollman-Porter is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University of Ohio. Dr. Knollman is collaborating with the BRAIN Lab in an effort to develop clinically sound treatment procedures for individuals with post-concussion syndrome.

Current BRAIN Lab Students:

Doctoral Student Researchers: Jenna Griffin, M.S., CCC-SLP

Graduate Students: Kaylee Walter and Harley Kincheloe

Undergraduate Researchers: Madison Larson and Dawson Jakober

Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAP) Outcomes Project:

The primary ongoing project being conducted in the BRAIN Lab is investigating patient, caregiver, and graduate student clinical training outcomes for stroke surviors with aphasia in the context of an intensive comprehensive aphasia program (ICAP) that takes place at the University of Montana.

For current BRAIN Lab information, follow us on Social Media at:

Facebook BRAIN Lab: Brain research for aphasia and intensive neurorehabilitation lab @BigSkyAphasiaLab: https://www.facebook.com/BigSkyAphasiaLab/

BRAIN Lab of University of Montana - Twitter @brainlab_mt:  https://twitter.com/brainlab_mt

Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury Projects

The BRAIN Lab team, in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Brown from University of Arizona and Dr. Kelly Knollman-Porter from Miami University of Ohio, are currently developing research programs to investigate clinically-based aspects of assessment and management of post-concussion syndrome and mild traumatic brain injury. The BRAIN Lab is particularly interested in understanding the influence that education and systematic, intensive cognitive-communication treatment can have on the academic and vocational success for students and student veterans with post-concussion syndrome.

BRAIN Lab Director, Dr. Cathy Off, is also Co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the University of Montana’s Neural Injury Center (NIC). She is currently leading the IRB Subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Board to develop the Neural Injury Center Registry and Repository which will increase NIC researchers’ ability to collect and store assessment data from individuals with traumatic brain injury for future research projects.   

 

Impact

Research within the BRAIN Lab is focused on how principles of neuroplasticity including treatment intensity and dosage influence cognitive-communication rehabilitation outcomes for stroke and brain injury survivors and their caregivers.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and often leads to life-altering cognitive-communication disorders that require speech, language, and/or cognitive rehabilitation. Aphasia is an acquired impairment of language function that can impact speaking, listening, reading, and writing to varying degrees. Approximately 25% to 40% of stroke survivors experience aphasia and currently up to 4 million people in the United States have aphasia. Aphasia can significantly impair the stroke survivor's ability to communicate, limit their daily activities, and restrict their participation in life situations and social roles. Intensive comprehensive aphasia programs (ICAPs) seek to treat the patient as a whole, including their language impairment, their activities of daily living, their participation in various roles, and their psychosocial well-being. When implementing a holistic health care model, attending to patient primary relationships is an essential mechanism in health service planning and implementation. Without the assistance of family caregivers, many stroke patients would not be able to remain home.