$1.9 Million PCORI Grant Supports Study of Early Rehabilitation Protocols at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

August 28, 2014

PITTSBURGH, PA - August 28, 2014 - With the support of a $1.9 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Ericka Fink, M.D., M.S., a physician-scientist in the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will examine early rehabilitation protocols (ERP) in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for children with acute brain injury (ABI).

The randomized, controlled trial will, for the first time, evaluate an early rehabilitation protocol versus usual care to improve outcomes for children admitted to the PICU with ABI. The long-term objective is to improve outcomes meaningful to children with ABI and their families.

The grant will fund a multicenter needs assessment to further characterize the current practices, barriers to care, and resources for physical, occupational, speech and behavioral assessment, and therapies needed for early rehabilitation protocol implementation in PICUs. It is one of 33 proposals PCORI approved for funding to advance patient-centered comparative effectiveness research and to help patients, health care providers and other clinical decision makers make better-informed choices.

Early rehabilitation protocol is a comprehensive program that addresses the functional, cognitive and emotional needs of the critically ill child. ERP is delivered by a multidisciplinary team with the aim of optimizing outcomes important to the patient and family.

Dr. Fink, associate professor, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will lead the multidisciplinary research project at Children's Hospital along with Craig Smith, M.D., critical care physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Other collaborators include leaders in pediatric brain injury, rehabilitation, psychiatry, outcomes, and most importantly, families of children with ABI.

"I am thankful to PCORI and my collaborators and stakeholders for their support, and I am extremely pleased to lead this effort to improve outcomes for children surviving ABI who are at high risk of multiple disabilities," Dr. Fink said. "We developed the early rehabilitation protocol program to include interventions that will optimize outcomes most important to patients and families including emotional, cognitive and functional ability, and quality of life. Should ERP be shown to be effective, we will provide assistance to other parties interested in implementing it in their institutions."

"This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options," said Joe Selby, M.D., M.P.H., executive director, PCORI.

All projects were selected through a highly competitive review process in which scientists, patients, caregivers and other stakeholders helped evaluate more than 325 applications for funding. Proposals were evaluated on scientific merit, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders, and their methodological rigor among other criteria.

PCORI has approved nearly $549 million to support 313 research studies and initiatives since it began funding research in 2012.

Andrea Kunicky, 412-692-6254, andrea.kunicky@chp.edu  

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919, marc.lukasiak@chp.edu