North Texas

Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Learn How to Ward Off Obesity

Doctors say people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury have an elevated risk of obesity

A new research trial is underway in Dallas meant to tackle a problem that affects people who suffer traumatic brain injuries.

Doctors said these patients are at a much greater risk of obesity in the years after their injury because of medications, changes in thinking or behavioral changes, physical limitations and lack of transportation.

Doctors at Baylor Scott & White have developed a new program for these patients that, so far, has produced promising results.

For Sharon and Ralph Good, learning how to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible is more important than ever.

The couple was involved in serious car accident in 2012. Ralph suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"I don't have a memory of things about a month before the car wreck and about a month after the car wreck. My family has been gracious to fill me in on what happened with that," Ralph Good said.

After a long road to recovery, he has done well, but now, as a traumatic brain injury survivor, he's at risk for another dangerous health condition: obesity.

"We know that obesity can lead to a number of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke and heart attack," said Dr. Randi Dubiel, Medical Director of Traumatic Brain Injury Services at Baylor Scott & White Rehabilitation Services Dallas.

Dubiel said she was researching whether intervention can curb the obesity risk among TBI survivors.

The Goods are part of a year-long group study that involves teaching TBI survivors how to eat healthy and exercise despite the disabilities, whether cognitive, physical or both, caused by their initial injury.

"They're gaining knowledge. They are socially engaged. They're happy and they're losing weight!" Dubiel said.

Since he started the program in January 2019, Ralph Good has lost 20 pounds. The program is part of the the North Texas Traumatic Brain Injury Model System, a unique research and clinical collaborative between Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation and UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

The NTTBIMS is one of 16 centers nationwide that was awarded a competitive grant by the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, due to its recognition as a national leader in TBI research and patient care.

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