Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects ten million people and spinal cord injury (SCI) affects 500,000 worldwide. Each year, the National Neurotrauma Society (NNS) provides a major forum for researchers, clinicians, trainees from around the world to meet and discuss the latest breakthroughs and findings intended to impact individuals living with TBI and SCI related disability. Despite many people having similar clinical presentation, demographic factors, and response to clinical care, outcome can widely differ among those SCI and TBI. In addition to demographic, social, and clinical factors, variability also may be attributable to innate biological variation that individuals bring to recovery and their unique response to their care and environment. All of these factors contribute the health and function of TBI and SCI survivors over the health span. The challenge for successful research pipelines feeding translational neurorehabilitation and neurotrauma research programs is to implement viable research approaches and methodologies to examine broad populations, with varied impairments and functional limitations, as well as utilize relevant basic, preclinical, and clinical model systems to research effective treatments that optimize function and recovery. Through the 2019 annual meeting, we have a unique opportunity come together to embrace an innovative and timely research and discussion forum aimed at making function a central research theme in improving the lives and health span of individuals with TBI and SCI. To this end, the National Neurotrauma Society and the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care will sponsor its 37th annual meeting, to be held in Pittsburgh PA on June 30th through July 3rd, 2019. We will explore the ?Bridging Gaps in Understanding the Neurobiology and Neurotechnology of Function after Neurotrauma?. The theme will take a 360 degree view of function across the spectrum of neurotrauma and neurorehabilitation research. The conference will feature a Keynote Series on ?What Function Means to Me? and hear from leading scientists representing many areas of research leadership and advocacy for advancing research knowledge and breakthroughs in understanding and mitigating the functional consequences of neurotrauma. For the first time, NNS TEAM (Training, Education, and Mentorship) will host an entire educational track for trainees and junior faculty on topics such as 1) Rigor and Reproducibility in Grant Writing, 2) Stepping through translational research in Neurotrauma, 3) understanding and modeling clinical aspects of secondary conditions that impact disability and function, 4) innovative neuroscience research tools and applications for neurotrauma research. For the first time, we will host a pre-conference workshop exploring Blood Based Biomarkers for Precision Medicine Applications in Function Recovery after Neurotrauma. As the first physiatrist to lead the NNS organization, a focus on function is a very personal component of what translational neuro-research can inform. In that vein, NNS attendees will engage with other stakeholders to explore NNS advocacy for those dealing with TBI and SCI related disability as well as articulate and formulate an NNS research roadmap broadly impacting our community.
TBI and SCI are a major public health burden that often lead to lifelong impairment and disability; the NNS, in large part through its annual scientific conference, is a thought vehicle and critical translational research resource in evaluating the neurobiological constructs of injury and repair and in assessing the viability of both neuroprotective and neurorestorative therapies that may influence health and function for those with TBI and SCI related disability. Ongoing support for this annual meeting ensures a major national investment in neurotrauma and neurorehabilitation research trainees, who are essential to advancing and innovating the research pipeline for effective protective and reparative treatments for these populations.