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Idaho State University

Idaho State University receives major federal grant to screen for traumatic brain injuries and assist TBI survivors

July, 11, 2014

Idaho State University’s Institute of Rural Health has been awarded a $1million grant to screen Idahoans for traumatic brain injury and renew efforts to establish a statewide trust fund to temporarily assist TBI survivors and their families.

The grant—awarded June 1 by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) will run through May 31, 2018.

“Idahoans are at a higher risk for brain injury accidents because of the rural nature of the state,” said the grant’s principal investigator Russell Spearman, a senior research associate in the IRH office at ISU-Meridian.  Spearman and co-investigator and ISU-Meridian counseling doctoral candidate Lynn Bohecker wrote the grant.

Spearman notes that more than 32,000 Idahoans are living with a severe TBI, caused by head trauma often sustained in car crashes, military combat or playing sports. TBI screenings will be added this fall to the services offered through the ISU-Meridian/Ada County Community Health Screening Program.  The TBI screening will consist of a structured interview developed by the College of Medicine at Ohio State University and conducted by ISU-Meridian health professions students and faculty. Clients who show signs of TBI will be referred to specialists for further evaluation, says Spearman.

Spearman and his research team would also like to see Idaho establish a trust fund to help TBI survivors ease the transition from acute care to independent living after exhausting health insurance benefits and community resources.

The challenge, notes Spearman, is finding a way to finance the trust fund.  One possibility is giving motorists an option to donate money when registering a motor vehicle - similar to TBI trust funds in other states.

The grant will also provide workshops for parents of children with a traumatic brain injury, educational materials about concussion- related TBI, and resources to reach underserved populations in Idaho, including Idaho’s Native American communities.

This is the fifth HRSA brain injury grant awarded to the IRH since 2000. Since 2006, ISU has been the state’s lead agency for TBI research and services.  In announcing the latest award, reviewers applauded ISU’s successful efforts to establish a comprehensive TBI program that meets the needs of Idahoans.
For more information, contact Russell Spearman at 208-373-1773 or