Toyota Supports Groundbreaking TBI Care Initiatives at the University of Michigan

March 28, 2024


By Dayne Hopkins

Members of the University of Michigan Concussion Center have taken a major step forward in supporting individuals impacted by traumatic brain injuries (TBI) by securing grant support from the Toyota Motor North America’s Way Forward Fund in collaboration with other institutions across the country. The grant is part of Toyota’s ongoing commitment to improving access to care and resources for children recovering from TBI. 

Organizations selected for the grants this year had to meet key focus areas, including:

  • Improving healthcare access to underserved communities
  • Developing digital platforms to broaden TBI treatment information
  • Creating a nationwide dashboard monitoring standards of care and the impact of pediatric TBI. 

Stemming from a technology prototype developed by the University of Michigan School of Information, the U-M Concussion Center has teamed up with the U-M Injury Prevention Center, National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), REAP®, Center on Brain Injury Research and Training (CBIRT), and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI), to take this project to the next level. Together, we aim to develop an innovative mobile application, the “Concussion Navigator,” to revolutionize concussion management through evidence-based educational resources, an interactive map that will guide patients to healthcare providers, and a symptom-tracking tool enabling users to monitor their concussion symptoms in real-time. The initial prototype focused on providing vital information and streamlining access to concussion care in communities throughout Michigan. Through partnerships with national organizations such as NASHIA, the vision is to distribute the technology from coast to coast. 

“NASHIA is excited to partner with the University of Michigan to ensure that this important tool can scale nationally in a sustainable way,” said Rebeccah Wolfkiel, Executive Director of NASHIA. 

Central to the app’s functionality is an interactive geo-map that differentiates our application from other concussion-care products on the market. It will help users find the concussion specialty clinics accepting the free concussion insurance provided by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) based on the city or zip codes. In collaboration with the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society (MATS), the team will continue to expand and refine the clinic list, focusing on available resources in underserved communities across the state. This feature will help to ensure that all high school athletes in Michigan are aware that they have access to necessary concussion care and treatment.

“The Navigator app will put key resources in the hands of those who need it most – particularly those living in the more rural and under-resourced parts of the state,” said Dr. Steve Broglio, Director of the U-M Concussion Center. “We intend to not only provide educational content and resources for recovery, but also help patients, parents, and administrators locate healthcare providers across the state of Michigan.”

Two other U-M units, U-M Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), were among the recipients of this year’s funds. Dr. Alex Rogers, a clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine expressed excitement about the potential impact of their community paramedicine program led by Yale School of Medicine.

“Our concept is to use emergency medical services (EMS) to fill in local health infrastructure,” said Rogers. “There are several EMS groups that already run community paramedic programs, but they’re small, and the concept is still in its infancy.” Rogers goes on to mention that the goal of their funding is to extend the healthcare model into more people’s homes and reach underserved communities more effectively. 

Another University of Michigan team, led by Dr. Alecia Daunter, Clinical Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Medical Director of Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation, aims to create a digital tool, “MiCare Assistant Platform”, that aids caregivers of children with TBI through organized sharing of health information, ultimately improving post-hospital rehab and recovery. 

The projects funded by Toyota’s Way Forward Fund are anticipated to span a minimum of 18 months, with a long-term vision of national expansion. These collaborative projects reflect Toyota’s commitment to driving positive change in healthcare accessibility and treatment standards for patients with traumatic brain injuries.