By Kate Hunger
Rocío Norman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, assistant professor received a $10,000, one-year seed grant from the School of Health Professions to study language performance in adults with mild traumatic brain injury.
Norman will partner with Reeves Rehabilitation Center at University Hospital and Veterans Community Organizations in the San Antonio area. Norman received the grant in March and has spent the spring obtaining ethics approval, procuring equipment and assembling her team, with plans to begin collecting data this summer.
Norman will be replicating her dissertation with one main difference: Rather than civilians, she will study veterans because they are “a proportion of the population with mild TBI who often seeks care from speech-language pathology.”
Norman said her goal is to “identify the role of cognition so that we can design treatment.”
Collecting pilot data through the seed-grant funded project will enable Norman to apply for external federal funding in the future.
Norman also recently published an article in the journal Military Medicine on her study of acquired stuttering in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, “Acquired Stuttering in Veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: The Role of Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Medications.”
The epidemiological study of more than 300,000 U.S. military veterans deployed in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan was based on data from the Veterans Health Administration National Repository. The veterans in the study received care from the Veterans Health Administration in 2010 and 2011.
The study was the first to make the connection between fluency disorders with traumatic brain injury and PTSD, Norman said, noting that the study also examined medication patterns and comorbid conditions, such as headache and depression.
“My goal is to bring light to communication problems that veterans have,” Norman said. “There is a lot of focus on the mental health aspects and the physical consequences of having been in combat, but I feel that I really want to bring light to how some of those impairments might impact speech and communication.”