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St. Michael’s receives grants to study brain injuries in hockey, trauma care in rural areas

When the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) announced its latest awards for injury research, only five teams were on the list and two of them were headed by doctors at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Toronto, August 4, 2010

Photos of Dr. Michael Cusimano and Dr. Avery Nathens Dr. Michael Cusimano and Dr. Avery Nathens

Neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Cusimano will lead a team studying traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Researchers working with Dr. Avery Nathens, the hospital’s director of trauma, will examine rural Canadians’ access to trauma centres.

“There are only so many [team grants] available and so few resources available. If you get one, it’s a great achievement,” said Christine Lavictoire, a deputy director at CIHR.

The five-year STAIR (Strategic Teams in Applied Injury Research) grants must involve researchers in multiple locations and disciplines and a mix of experienced and junior researchers. The grants to Sr. Michael’s total nearly $4 million.

Dr. Cusimano’s team will look at TBI in sports such as hockey, in vulnerable groups such as the homeless, and in motor vehicle collisions and falls. They will also probe the link between violence and aggression.

Dr. Nathens’ team will examine what can be done to improve care for the 20 per cent of rural Canadians who do not have access to trauma centres during that “golden hour” when there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death. Due to the distribution of trauma patients and centres in Canada, half of all patients receive preliminary care someplace else before being transferred to a trauma centre.