Mayo Clinic has been funded by the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Model System Center continuously since 1998. We have successfully competed for this funding because we consistently produce high quality research and because we provide comprehensive team-based rehabilitation services to people with TBI and their families over the continuum of care that is associated with superior outcomes.
Lack of access to specialized TBI care is the most common need identified by individuals after they are hospitalized for TBI. The upper Midwest has some of the highest populations of rural dwellers, the elderly, and Native Americans, all of whom have a high risk for TBI and are more likely to have limited access to rehabilitation services after acute care. Explosive advances in communication technology have brought tele-medicine to the forefront of health care. The CONNECT trial will test the effectiveness of using modern technologies - such as phone consultation and other telehealth communication systems - to deliver specialized brain rehabilitation resources remotely to patients and providers in the upper Midwest. The groups targeted by the CONNECT trial are:
- Individuals recently hospitalized with TBI;
- Their families;
- Their local health care and other providers (primary care providers, psychologists, therapists, social service providers, job counselors).
The CONNECT trial is the first study of this scope - in 4 upper Midwest states (MN, IA, ND, and SD), 3 health systems (Mayo Clinic, Trinity Health in ND, Regional Health in SD), and 2 state Departments of Health (IA, MN) - using electronic technology to see if outcome can be improved by providing care with no face-to-face contact. The trial will study whether outcomes over three years are different in the group receiving this remotely provided model of care compared to a matched group that receives usual care in their communities.
The desired long term outcome of this study is to increase our capacity to provide care and to reduce barriers to accessing specialized TBI rehabilitation services faced by individuals with TBI and their families.