• A lot of focus on brain injury research is dedicated to saving lives. But the daunting journey of recovery from traumatic brain injury is just as important for survivors.

    That’s why the Adler Giersch Law Firm, a firm specializing in representing clients with traumatic brain injuries, launched an endowed professorship to help the University of Washington’s Rehabilitation Department conduct novel and innovative research on new rehab evaluations and treatments. The endowment was established in December of 2016 with seed money of $100,000 and because of annual donations since then, it has already grown to more than $500,000 for brain injury research.

    This endowment’s mission is to help brain injury victims maximize their recoveries and reclaim the lives they love.

    “We are often by our clients’ bedside, with their families, when they first sustain their injuries,” says Attorney Richard Adler. “Our job is to make sure they have the resources necessary to help them recover. But we are also committed to advancing the evaluation treatment methods to help our existing and future clients on this lifelong journey. It’s a privilege to partner with these outstanding health-care champions at Harborview Medical Center and UW.”

    Adler Giersch first began their partnership with UW when they helped start an endowment on behalf of their client Zackery Lystedt, who sustained a brain injury when he continued to play in a middle school football game after a concussion. After concluding a precedent-setting case outcome and having a leading role in a successful nationwide campaign that changed the youth concussion laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Adler Giersch helped secure additional funding for the Zackery Lystedt Endowed Fund in 2009, that elevated to an  Endowed Professorship and finally capping it with the Zackery Lystedt Endowed Chair, the highest research position at UW Medicine.

    Dr. Stanley Herring serves as Co-Medical Director at UW Medicine Sports Concussion Program and uses the funds from the Lystedt Endowment in the mission of preventing preventable brain injuries in youth sports.

    “People talk about the surgery or the initial life-saving event. That’s the first step in recovery. But so many patients need physical, emotional, psychological, cognitive, academic, social, vocational help – all roads lead through rehabilitation medicine to return to function. It’s what Adler Giersch has done. They have seen this, they have experienced this, they understand it,” Herring says. “They have chosen this idea of working with health care providers in a field that can help everyone improve the quality of their life.”

    Jeanne Hoffman, Ph.D., UW Medicine, is a rehabilitation psychologist who currently chairs the Adler Giersch Endowed Rehabilitation Professorship at UW.

    “The endowment has been really powerful in terms of allowing us to give small grants to trainees and early career folks to do really innovative and cutting-edge work in traumatic brain injury research,” Hoffman says.

    Even incremental advancements in research and rehabilitation can deliver dramatic results to the lives of brain injury survivors. Aaron Bunnell, M.D., Medical Director of Consults for Rehabilitation Medicine at UW Harborview Medical Center, emphasizes that rehabilitation is not just about the physical recovery.

    “Traumatic brain injury has a significant impact on what we consider being human: our ability to relate with family members, to do tasks that we like, go to work, to live our  lives essentially,” says Bunnell.

    “The importance of research in the area of traumatic brain injury is incredibly significant in that even small changes in a recovery trajectory, if you can get a five or 10 percent recovery, you not only may save a life, you may have a huge impact on whether somebody can return to school or to return to something they really enjoy in life.”

    As the fund continues to grow, so does its reach. Janna Friedly, M.D.,M.P.H., is a UW Professor and Vice Chair of UW’s Rehabilitation Department.

    “We are still doing quite a bit of research to understand how to improve the outcomes for people with brain injury. In terms of the care required after brain injury, people with brain injury require lots of different treatment from the whole team of physicians and other rehabilitation specialists to get back into their life and help them regain the function that they lost,” Friedly says.

    “We’re still trying to make sure that we can provide rehabilitation services to as many patients as possible. Many patients don’t have access to the state-of-the-art treatment that we offer at UW. Having additional funding to help support our programs will really help us provide more care to more patients, and to reach vulnerable populations that may not have access to care.”

    Adler Giersch would like to thank the UW Rehab team who joined us for a discussion about the new AG endowment dedicated to improving the lives of brain injury survivors: Stanley Herring, MD Co-Medical Director, UW Medicine Sport Concussion Program and Jeanne Hoffman, Ph.D., UW Medicine



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