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Thread: Brooks Health opens research lab

  1. #1
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    Brooks Health opens research lab

    Brooks Health opens research lab

    By John Snow
    The Business Journal of Jacksonville

    Sep. 8 - SOUTHSIDE -- One of the few private rehabilitation research centers in the country will open this month, a partnership between the University of Florida and Brooks Health System.



    Although the Jacksonville center is new, the partnership began four years ago when Brooks and UF ponied up $2.5 million each to create an endowment to fund the University of Florida Brooks Center for Rehabilitation Studies, based in Gainesville.
    "The purpose of the center is to develop the science of rehabilitation," said Pamela Duncan, center director. "We're developing and testing new interventions to speed and improve recovery."
    Data collected in Jacksonville will contribute to studies into recovery techniques for patients who have experienced stroke, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, falls and chronic pain.
    The Jacksonville facility, called the Human Performance Lab, is funded with $1.3 million from Brooks and another $275,000 from UF. It's at Memorial Healthcare Plaza on University Boulevard and formally opens Sept. 25, though it has been ramping up since January and has already put about 30 patients through research work.
    Though dubbed a lab, the facility is a fully staffed research center of 1,800 square feet with diverse, cutting-edge equipment requiring high ceilings. It is one of only about seven major private rehabilitation research centers in the country, Duncan said. Lab equipment costs were nearly $600,000, she said.
    The local lab, which will require a $1.3 million annual budget, already has about seven patients in speech and language research and 25 in a recently completed stroke impact scale study.
    Gainesville did not provide as large a patient base to draw from as desired, prompting the creation of the Jacksonville lab, the only facility of its kind for the center.
    "We need a large metropolitan community to recruit patients," Duncan said.
    Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital will feed research candidates to the lab and center; between 100 and 200 patients a year will be seen.
    The Jacksonville facility will have a full-time staff of six but will participate in studies with the Gainesville center's 80 researchers, including 37 who have won lifetime achievement awards for their efforts, Duncan said.
    Jacksonville researchers will work on existing studies and initiate studies to be based here.
    Research into new techniques for the recovery of speech and language skills after a stroke are also part of the lab's work. That excites Dr. Leslie Gonzalez Rothi, associate program director for clinical research and professor of neurology at UF's College of Medicine, whose research specialty includes that area.
    She has been working with an $8.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study treatments for speech and language cognition problems. She is writing a grant renewal that would fund the program for five more years. The grant would fund research in both Jacksonville and Gainesville.
    "Brooks has enthusiasm and a rare institutional will to provide patients with cutting-edge care," Gonzalez Rothi said. "What we run into elsewhere is an unwillingness to provide resources, like space."
    The end result has less to do with grants and specialized equipment and more to do with a single individual who can speak a little better or move a little better than before they entered a study.
    One such example is Orange Park resident Richard Bilyk, who had a stroke that paralyzed the right half of his body when he was 46. After conventional rehabilitation, he was still left with little motion in his right arm and significant speech impairments.
    Four years later, new techniques already under study at the Jacksonville lab -- and using prior work with the Brooks center -- helped him regain 40 percent of the motion in his right arm. He can even proudly wiggle the thumb of his otherwise motionless right hand.
    Bilyk also regained critical speech ability. After the stroke, he had trouble recalling connective words in sentences and using them properly. Now he can use the word "the" properly, which greatly helps in understanding him, he said.
    Bilyk's recent successes contributed to his impending graduation from a Web management program at St. Johns Community College.
    He has an accounting degree, but his new choice of vocation is more practical. "I can do it with one hand," he said.


    Copyright 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    http://famulus.msnbc.com/famuluscom/...0.asp?bizj=JAC

  2. #2
    Good article, thx Max.

    We need more centers like this - everywhere.

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