Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU expands traumatic brain injury program with $2.9 million in philanthropic support

A child playing soccer.
A new center will enhance and expand pediatric traumatic brain injury clinical services and research at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. (Getty Images)

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU has received $2.9 million in community support through a grant from the Children’s Hospital Foundation to develop a center to enhance and expand pediatric traumatic brain injury clinical services and research.

The new center will provide comprehensive care for a variety of needs — from patients requiring extensive stays in the pediatric intensive care unit to young athletes in need of outpatient concussion care.

Brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death for children in the United States. Large gaps exist in understanding the impact of brain injury on the neurodevelopmental periods of childhood, hindering the development of therapies to improve outcomes.

 “Our efforts are multipronged, beginning with helping patients and families access the best evidence-based treatment and most appropriate levels of care as quickly as possible,” said Katherine Dec, M.D., who, along with Nikki Miller Ferguson, M.D., and Alia Marie Iqbal O’Meara, M.D., is leading the new traumatic brain injury center. “More globally, my physician colleagues and I are focused on continued clinical research and collaboration throughout our community, nationally and even internationally, to improve outcomes for all children experiencing traumatic brain injury.”

Research equipment, renovated lab space and a new pediatric brain injury registry are among the components of the Children’s Hospital Foundation three-year grant. Physicians are also involved in several studies with children’s hospitals across the country, further enhancing CHoR’s role in the development of future guidelines for the care and treatment of pediatric brain injury.

“Collaborating with other experts around the world is crucial in ensuring the very best care and outcomes,” Iqbal O’Meara said. “We’re all in this together to create the clear, gold standard for caring for children and adolescents with traumatic brain injury.”

 While the new center’s initial focus is traumatic brain injury, the resultant research and care will provide a model for understanding and treating a variety of conditions that affect brain health, such as stroke, brain tumors, sickle cell disease, autoimmune encephalitis, infections and uncontrolled seizures.

“We take pride in working with people and organizations in our community who want to support the outstanding work being done at CHoR,” said Lauren Moore, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Foundation. “It is wonderful to see how donors provide physician researchers like Drs. Dec, Iqbal O’Meara and Miller Ferguson and their team what they need to improve the physical, cognitive and psychological health and well-being of our future generations. Of course, we’re thrilled that the ultimate beneficiaries are the children and families impacted by [traumatic brain injury], in our community and beyond.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.