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Current Studies & Research
The interFACE Lab

The interFACE Lab The Interactive and Functional Assessment of Communication and Emotion (InterFACE) Center is a natural observation laboratory designed to research emotional and behavioral deficits in people with neurological,… Read More


TrackTBI Investigator: Richard Rodgers, MD TRACK-TBI:  The multicenter Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) study aims to improve success of clinical trial design through the collection and analysis of… Read More

Training to Reconnect with emotional awareness therapy

Training to Reconnect with emotional awareness therapy (TREAT) Investigators: Dawn Neumann, Flora Hammond The purpose of this study is to teach participants with traumatic brain injury to develop better emotional… Read More

Avanir Study

Avanir Study Sheryl Katta-Charles MD, Principal Investigator A Phase 2, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability or AVP-786 (deudextromethorphan hydrobromide [d6-DM]/quinidine sulfate [Q]) for… Read More

Monitoring Safety and Training in Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries

Long-Term, Prospective, Non-Interventional Study Monitoring Safety and Training in Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries and Their Trained Companions Recently Initiated with the ReWalk™ Personal Device. Flora Hammond, MD (PI), funded… Read More

Indiana State Department of Health Traumatic Times VOL 6, Issue 1 January 2nd, 2015

Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI): Brain Injury Coping Skills Group

By Samantha Backhaus, PhD, HSPP, Clinical Neuropsychologist and  Associate Director of Outpatient Neuropsychological Services, Departments of Rehabilitation Neuropsychology, Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana

The Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI) in Indianapolis is currently offering a nationally-recognized intervention to individuals with brain injury and their families to help them better adjust and adapt to the myriad of challenges for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) presents.

In 2006, our team developed a coping skills program to address TBI’s long-term physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges. The program’s inspiration was the case of pediatrician Lisa Thompson, MD, who, in 2005, committed   suicide five years after a TBI, leaving a grieving extended family. Knowing that awareness of the long-term effects of TBI was lacking in Lisa’s case, RHI made it a mission to provide adequate education and support to survivors of brain injury and their families to help them better adjust to the injury. Donations to the Dr. Lisa Thompson Fund in the RHI Foundation provided financial support for pertinent clinical and research programs.

Brain Injury Coping Skills (BICS) is a 12-16 week, small group intervention (5-7 patients plus their caregivers), that meets once weekly for two hours and systematically addresses a number of topics (see below).

BICS Group Topics
  • The nature of your injury
  • The effects of TBI
  • Expectations for recovery and factors that can influence recovery
  • Getting back to work and driving
  • Effects of alcohol on the brain after TBI
  • Symptoms and management of depression
  • Managing challenging situations such as fatigue, sleep dysfunction, sexual disturbances, and    irritability/anger  problems;
  • Stress management strategies like recognizing      stressors, altering alarming perceptions and   practicing relaxation
  • Learning how to get along better in relationships

Through support from the RHI Foundation/Dr. Lisa Thompson Fund, my colleagues and I designed a multi-centered research study comparing the effects of BICS intervention to standard outpatient rehabilitation (control group). BICS study participants developed significantly better perceived self-efficacy than the control group and maintained these gains for at least three months. This self-efficacy could serve as a protective factor for individuals experiencing daily struggles and setbacks. The control group became significantly worse over time. This suggested that while individuals can often initially make spontaneous gains early in their recovery, if they do not receive the proper treatments, both the person with the injury and family members are likely to develop emotional difficulties as the recovery curve slows down.

A subsequent study funded by the Indiana State Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Fund replicated the initial findings comparing BICS to participation in a support group which served as the control. Participants in both groups made significant gains in self-efficacy, emotional control and regulation, and everyday problem-solving.      However, those who received the BICS intervention were able to maintain their positive perceived self-efficacy over time, while those who did not continued to decline.

The BICS intervention has been taught and presented nationally through the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine as well as internationally in Norway and New Zealand. The BICS manual is published and distributed by Lash Publishing. It is RHI’s vision to not only develop and study the effects of cutting-edge clinical interventions but also to disseminate these findings.