BRAIN Lab

Brain Research for Aphasia and Intensive Neurorehabilitation - BRAIN Lab

Mission

The mission of the Brain Research for Aphasia and Intensive Neurorehabilitation (BRAIN) Lab (P.I. Catherine Off, Ph.D.) at the University of Montana is to investigate the influence of intensive speech, language, and cognitive therapy on stroke and brain injury rehabilitation for both the patients and their caregivers. 

People and Projects

Dr. Cathy Off is the director of the BRAIN Lab.

Jenna Griffin is a speech-language pathologist, clinical educator, and director of the Big Sky Aphasia Program.

Collaborators:

Dr. Kristen Murray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at the University of Montana. As a collaborator with the BRAIN Lab, she guides psychosocial well-being and mental health for our participants and examines the influence of group counseling for caregivers of stroke and brain injury survivors.

Dr. Lisa Milman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Utah State University. As a collaborator with the BRAIN Lab, she guides assessment of outcomes for stroke survivor participants and analysis of those outcomes. 

Current BRAIN Lab Students:

Undergraduate Researchers: Kendall Alley, Nicole Aline, Bridget Brannan, and Haley McMahon

Graduate Student Researchers: Anya Leyhe, Kathy Molesh, and Emma Strombom

Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAP) Outcomes Project:

The primary ongoing project being conducted in the BRAIN Lab is investigating patient, caregiver, and graduate student clinical training outcomes in the context of an intensive comprehensive aphasia program (ICAP) that takes place at the University of Montana.

mTBI Project:

The BRAIN Lab team, in collaboration with the University of Montana's Neural Injury Center, is currently developing a research-based program to investigate the influence of cross-disciplinary intensive rehabilitation for individuals returning to campus with mTBI. Collaborators currently include Dr. Kristen Murray, Counselor Education.

Impact

Research within the BRAIN Lab is focused on how principles of neuroplasticity including treatment intensity and dosage influence cognitive-communication rehabilitation outcomes for stroke and brain injury survivors and their caregivers.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and often leads to life-altering cognitive-communication disorders that require speech, language, and/or cognitive rehabilitation. Aphasia is an acquired impairment of language function that can impact speaking, listening, reading, and writing to varying degrees. Approximately 25% to 40% of stroke survivors experience aphasia and currently up to 4 million people in the United States have aphasia. Aphasia can significantly impair the stroke survivor's ability to communicate, limit their daily activities, and restrict their participation in life situations and social roles. Intensive comprehensive aphasia programs (ICAPs) seek to treat the patient as a whole, including their language impairment, their activities of daily living, their participation in various roles, and their psychosocial well-being. When implementing a holistic health care model, attending to patient primary relationships is an essential mechanism in health service planning and implementation. Without the assistance of family caregivers, many stroke patients would not be able to remain home.