Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University form Research Consortium Focused on Head, Neck, Spinal Injuries

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February 6, 2012

Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University are joining forces to form the Cleveland Traumatic Neuromechanics Consortium (TNC), which will investigate and develop better protection and treatment strategies for head, neck and spinal injuries related to sports, military service and automobile accidents.

The center will be led by researchers who have collaborated on state-of-the-art research in collision sports. They recently reported that today’s football helmets offer no better protection than early 20th Century leather helmets in re-creations of near-concussive blows commonly suffered during games and practices.

Adam Bartsch PhD, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Head, Neck and Spine Research Laboratory, and Vikas Prakash PhD, Director of Impact Mechanics and Crashworthiness Laboratory and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve’s Case School of Engineering, have been named co-directors.

“This initiative aligns with a fundamental principle of our strategic plan – namely, the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration,” said W.A. “Bud” Baeslack, Provost and Executive Vice President of Case Western Reserve University. “By combining the expertise of extraordinarily talented researchers from two world-class institutions in Cleveland, we have the potential to make a significant positive difference in people’s lives.”

Michael Modic, MD, Chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute, added, “This consortium brings together key strengths of both institutes – the clinical care, research and expertise in neuromechanics at Cleveland Clinic and the engineering proficiency at Case Western. Such collegiality will create a formidable platform to solve complicated clinical-engineering neurological problems.”

In the near-term, Bartsch and Prakash aim to rapidly turn the consortium into a national and internationally recognized leader in the exploration of traumatic neuromechanics by combining engineering and clinical expertise provided by each institution. The long-term goal for the Cleveland TNC is to be recognized as a National Center of Excellence in traumatic head, neck and spine injury and related neuromechanics domains.

“The Cleveland TNC will allow us to expand our in-depth engineering analyses of protective gear and safety systems in impact scenarios, then translate these analyses into a usable form for safety engineers, clinicians and end users,” Bartsch said. “There will be a steady flow of vital information back and forth among engineers and clinicians.”

“By bridging engineering with neuroscience and sports medicine, the Cleveland TNC will foster and facilitate collaboration between two Cleveland institutions – both with international visibility. Each harbors their individual unique expertise and strengths. The consortium will be highly interdisciplinary and afford ample opportunities for future explorations with other national and international experts working at the intersection of engineering and human health in academic, clinical or industrial settings,” Prakash said.

“Understanding neurological responses to mechanical forces require thorough characterization and rigorous analysis under realistic but controlled conditions,” said Iwan Alexander, Chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at CWRU. “The consortium provides an excellent opportunity for our graduate and undergraduate engineering students to be exposed first-hand to an interdisciplinary research activity that will provide a much needed knowledge base upon which practical solutions to this pressing problem can be engineered.”

The consortium laboratories will be located in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Case School of Engineering, as well as in the Head, Neck and Spine Research Laboratory, which is located at Cleveland Clinic’s Lutheran Hospital. Rawlings Sporting Goods, through the Rawlings Performance Institute at Cleveland Clinic, has provided an unrestricted gift that will provide the traumatic neuromechanics analysis equipment – to be housed in the TNC laboratories.

In 2012, the Cleveland TNC will establish an advisory board, comprised of leaders in the field of traumatic neuromechanics, to help guide current and future activities. Undergraduate and graduate engineering students, as well as medical students, residents and fellows, will join the faculty and staff from Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University in this unique and forward-thinking multidisciplinary research project.

About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is one of the country’s leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 4,200 undergraduate and 5,600 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit case.edu to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S.News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,800 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic Health System includes a main campus near downtown Cleveland, eight community hospitals and 18 Family Health Centers in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and opening in 2013, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2010, there were 4 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 167,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 100 countries. Visit us at www.clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at www.twitter.com/ClevelandClinic.

Media Contacts

Cleveland Clinic: Tracy Wheeler, 216.444.4235, wheelet2@ccf.org
CWRU: Kevin Mayhood, 216.368.4442, kevin.mayhood@case.edu

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