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Health

UNC To Establish New TBI Treatment Program With Funding From Gary Sinise

 At the Matthew Gfeller Center, UNC-Chapel Hill researchers study the causes and effects of Traumatic Brain Injury
At the Matthew Gfeller Center, UNC-Chapel Hill researchers study the causes and effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

UNC Chapel Hill has received a $12.5 million gift to start a clinical treatment program for veterans and first responders with traumatic brain injuries.

The new program, called THRIVE — Transforming Health and Resilience in Veterans — builds on the university’s expertise in concussion and head injuries from sports. It will offer access to treatment at sites across the state.

The money came from a foundation started by actor Gary Sinise, a longtime advocate for military service members and veterans.

Traumatic brain injury — or TBI — is a signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in part because improvised bombs were so common. Many troops survived blasts, but later suffered TBI caused by the shock waves. More than 400,000 veterans have been diagnosed with TBIs since 2000.

When veterans come into the program, they will undergo a wellness exam before a team of physicians, neuropsychologists, athletic trainers, physical therapists, social workers and counselors design a care plan.

Dr. Shawn Kane, the THRIVE Program’s chief medical officer and associate professor in the department of family medicine at UNC, spent 27 years as a physician in the U.S. Army.

"It is important for us to leverage our expertise and health care resources to assist our veterans who may have developed long-term, complex physical and neurological health issues from combat-related exposures in service to our nation," Kane said.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.