Dopamine Dysfunction in TBI: A Contextualized Rehabilomics Investigation

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TBI is known to cause significant complications, including seizures, hypogonadism and depression. It is very difficult to predict who will experience these complications because people with similar trauma and comparable hospital and rehabilitative care often display very different outcomes. Recent research by our lab has shown that genetic variants can serve as strong predictors of both outcome and complications after TBI. Specifically, evidence suggests that dopamine (DA) dysfunction underlies many of the cognitive deficits observed after TBI and that DA enhancing drugs can improve cognition and recovery. Importantly, previous and preliminary work provides compelling support for using biomarkers, including genetics, to reflect the state of DA systems after TBI, as DA dysfunction has been shown to map to impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. As part of this research project, subjects with TBI are enrolled in a prospective cohort study. Blood samples are collected for DNA extraction as well as analysis of biomarkers related to TBI. Information is collected about their complications and outcome during the recovery process. A gene prognosis score (GPS) will be developed that reflects the genetic-biomarker contribution of DA pathways in order to determine the association of these scores with various elements of function and recovery.