Brain Injury Research-Andrea Selmser '11

After joining the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in the spring of 2010, I realized that graduate studies were right for me. The McNair Program is designed to help (first-generation and low income) students prepare for graduate studies through research and other scholarly activities/workshops. I was very fortunate to work with Dr. Morley, a neurologist, in conjunction with Dr. Wozniak, McNair Scholars Program Director, and Dr. Brown, Head of the Biology Department. Our study was on traumatic brain injury in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, Dr. Morley and I studied the effects of IED (improvised explosive device) blasts and traumatic brain injury.

I’ve had the opportunity to present my research to two classes in my department and at a National Ronald E. McNair Research Conference. Now, our research poster has been accepted at the Federal Interagency Conference on Traumatic Brain Injury in Washington D.C., from June 13-15th, 2011. This conference brings researchers, clinicians, the military, and students together. Our research contribution will significantly contribute to understanding the complex neurobiology of post-traumatic migraine headache.

Dr. Morley and I studied the characteristics of new onset migraine in a cohort of 71 post-deployment male OEF/OIF veterans in the Great Lakes region who screened positive for mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) between July 2009 and April 2010. We found that post-traumatic migraine is a common sequela of blast-related mild TBI. The number of blast exposures showed significant correlation (Pearson method) with migraine headache severity, photosensitivity, and sleep disturbances as rated by standardized numerical scales.