Georgia Model Brain Injury System

GAMBIS Research Focus

Shepherd Center partners with key stakeholders to lead the Georgia Model Brain Injury System (GAMBIS). The mission of GAMBIS is to improve the employment, financial, health, and community participation outcomes of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly for minority and underserved populations.

TBI Model Systems

Shepherd Center is one of the 16 Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) Centers funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Participation in this multi-center project allows Shepherd Center to participate in data collection that will be used to increase clinical knowledge of moderate/severe traumatic brain injury and improve the understanding of how best to provide treatment and services for TBI. Participation in TBIMS will also allow us to follow individuals with TBI over their lifetime to better understand the experiences of people living with traumatic brain injury long-term.

Being awarded the TBIMS grant for the 2022-2027 cycle has also allowed us to conduct innovative research on vocational rehabilitation services through our Site-Specific project, “Improving Employment Outcomes of Persons with Moderate/Severe TBI.” The goal of the study is to validate novel vocational rehabilitation (VR) interventions coordinated between hospital-based and state VR programs. Our primary project objective is to identify the most clinically and financially effective VR services for individuals with the most significant TBIs. We will also translate knowledge and develop materials tailored for each stakeholder to help improve employment outcomes for individuals with TBI.

Current GAMBIS Research Studies

GAMBIS: A Longitudinal Study of Individuals with Moderate/Severe TBI

  • Individuals with moderate to severe TBI in the Georgia Model Brain Injury System (GAMBIS) at Shepherd Center are followed in this multi-center, longitudinal study that seeks to learn more about the medical care, health and well-being, quality-of-life, and general life experiences of people living with TBI over their lifetime.

GAMBIS Site-Specific Study: Improving Employment Outcomes of Persons with Moderate/Severe TBI

  • The general purpose of this study is to determine if transitional vocational rehabilitation and transitional vocational rehabilitation with on-the-job-training interventions will help to improve the employment, health, and community participation outcomes of individuals with TBI.

    Our GAMBIS Research Team

    Brick Johnstone, Ph.D., ABPP, The O. Wayne Rollins Director of Brain Injury Research at Shepherd Center

    • Johnstone has spent the past 35 years working to advance the employment, health, and community participation of individuals with neurological disorders, and primarily those with acquired brain injury. He has held leadership roles on several NIDILRR grants and provided neuropsychological evaluations in academic medical settings and military TBI clinics.

    Nicole Thompson, MPH, Research Program Manager

    • Nicole is a clinical researcher and public health professional with over 19 years of experience in rehabilitation research, primarily in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She has coordinated numerous NIDRR/NIDILRR funded grants, led data collection and analysis, and managed several projects with the Interactive Technology Usability and Accessibility Lab. Her research interests focus on interventions that improve independence, community living and health and function by people with disabilities.

    Jessica Conklin, Ph.D., Research Neuropsychology Fellow

    • Conklin is trained in clinical neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology. Her clinical and research interests include assessment and interventions for traumatic brain injury, sociocultural determinants of health and recovery, military populations, minority and disability status, and identification of prognostic factors for treatment and outcomes research. Her research is funded by the Wounded Warrior Project and NIDILRR Switzer Fellowship Program.

    Angela Tang, Research Assistant

    • Angela joined the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) research team in the summer of 2022. She assists with literature reviews, data collection and analysis, and study coordination.

    Dalton Hill, Research Coordinator

    • Dalton is the newest member of the ABI Research team. He is joining the NIDILRR-funded Georgia Model Brain Injury System Center (GAMBIS) at Shepherd Center as our data collector/coordinator. He is a recent 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia.