Dr. Michael Hoffer Receives Additional $250,000 for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Research

Michael Hoffer, M.D., Director of the Vestibular and Balance Program in the Department of Otolaryngology, has been awarded an additional $250,000 by the NFL, Under Armour and GE Ventures to continue studying mild traumatic brain injury and the use of the I-Portal PAS goggle for mTBI diagnosis. The funds will enable Hoffer and his team to transition their initial lab studies to site-of-injury tests in the Miami community. Hoffer will also continue making enhancements to the I-Portal PAS goggle and software.

The research is part of the NFL and Under Armour’s Head Health Challenge project, which awarded seven grants. Hoffer was originally awarded a $500,000 grant to be given in two $250,000 increments. The initial $250,000 was used to launch the Head Health Challenge project by the University of Miami, University of Pittsburgh and Neuro Kinetics Inc., the manufacturer of the I-Portal PAS goggle. The second increment just awarded to Hoffer was dependent on successful performance of the initial study aims.

Hoffer’s research focuses on early detection and level of severity measurements of mTBI in professional, college and high school athletes and personnel from U.S. military units outside of a hospital setting with the use of the goggle. Mild traumatic brain injury is a major health issue in sports and on battlefields and is one of the most common reasons for visits to emergency rooms by adults and adolescents. Currently, the main method of testing patients involves tests that are only available at medical centers. However, due to Hoffer and his team’s work, the I-Portal IPAS goggle has been outfitted with software that includes diagnostic tests that can determine, at the site of injury, whether the patient can return to the field or needs to seek further medical attention.

“There’s widespread awareness that concussions are a serious crisis for both our military personnel and athletes at every level, from professional to youth sports,” said Hoffer, who recently retired from a 20-year career with the U.S. Navy. “It is urgent that we develop new and improved techniques for quick and accurate detection of potentially life-altering concussions. We are grateful to the NFL, Under Armour and GE Ventures for their support of this important work.”

Hoffer began studying traumatic brain injuries while serving in the military in Iraq, with support from the Office of Naval Research, Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence. His latest research capitalizes on the University of Miami’s experience in traumatic brain injury and collaboration between UHealth’s Otolaryngology Department and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Working with Hoffer are Constanza Pelusso, M.D., from the UHealth Vestibular and Balance Program, and Miller School of Medicine graduate Mikhaylo Szczupak, M.D.

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