News and events

VCU Libraries Add Cifu Text as 3 Millionth Volume to Collection

The VCU libraries recently added the three millionth volume to their collection, and we are pleased to share that it is a book about TBI treatment co-authored by PM&R Department Chair Dr. David Cifu. Read more about it in the VCU News Release. Congratulations, Dr. Cifu!

“I Think I Have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)”: A Clinician’s Guide to Managing a Research Phenomenon

Presented by:

David X. Cifu, MD

March 21, 2018

12:00 PM ET-1:00 PM ET

VA employees may receive CEU credit through the talent management system (TMS) by pre-registering, attending & completing the evaluation posted in TMS.


Registration for the training: "I Think I Have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)": A Clinician's Guide to Managing a Research

Location:  Adobe Connect:

VANTS: 1-800-767-1750    Access Code: 91632#

Program Description: 

The Veteran’s Health Administration Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is an essential specialty service for Veterans and Service Members who experience disabilities due to medical and health conditions.  Medical rehabilitation emphasizes restoration and optimization of function through physical modalities, therapeutic exercise and interventions, adaptive equipment, modification of environment, education, and assistive devices.   Due to the complexity of their functional deficits, Veterans and Service Members with physical disabilities require a high level of coordinated and integrated clinical care and other support services.

The purpose of this knowledge based webinar is to educate health care providers on the evidence-based, practical, clinical approach to the assessment, management and risk communication strategies for Veterans who believe they may be at risk to develop or currently have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy as a result of combat-related exposures or injuries, including repetitive traumatic brain Injury (concussions) or blast. Topics will include; a critical review of the scientific literature of CTE, blast and mild TBI, an update of ongoing VA, DoD, and academic multicenter, longitudinal studies of individuals, including Veterans and Servicememembers, with exposures to one or more concussions and blasts, a rational approach to diagnostic testing, a comprehensive, clinical practice guideline-directed management strategy, and recommendations on risk communication techniques for patients, caregivers and clinicians. The presentation will include a critical literature review, a research update from the VA/DoD Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) Longitudinal Study, clinical case studies, and a recommended clinician’s guide to diagnostic testing (imaging, biomarker, posturography, electrophysiology, neuropsychology), rehabilitation therapies, diet, exercise, vocational services, medications, and mental health care. Issues surrounding research trial and brain donation will also be discussed.


The target audience for this activity consists of clinical providers and specialists caring for wounded service members and Veterans with multiple injuries as a result of blast-related damages. This includes physicians (including psychiatrists); social workers, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, and rehabilitation specialists. 

Credit/hours: 1 hour CEU

Participants must be registered in order to obtain CEUs.

Cifu Testifies Before U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services

David Cifu, M.D., the Herman J. Flax Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of PM&R, testified before members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 to provide an update to committee members on research, diagnosis, and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussion in Service Members. Cifu testified alongside other concussion/TBI experts from the military, VA, and civilian sectors. Watch the committee hearing here.

Cifu Provides Insight into Concussion Research and Brain Disorders

Department Chairman and Herman J. Flax, MD Professor Dr. David Cifu was featured recently in two news articles discussing concussions and brain disorders. The articles appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) and through VCU News. Read the RTD article here and the VCU News article here.

Land Purchased for Joint Venture Rehabilitation Facility

The joint venture between Sheltering Arms and VCU Health System has reached a significant milestone! Last week Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Centers purchased the land for the new facility in Goochland County for $7.91 million. Click here to read more about the purchase in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article.   

Webster Featured in MossRehab Conversations Podcast

Dr. Joseph Webster, MD, a PM&R faculty member at the McGuire VAMC, was featured recently in the MossRehab Conversations podcast - a series of discussions with pioneers in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Webster, who also serves as the national medical director for VA's Amputation System of Care, was interviewed about his groundbreaking work with osseointegration, which involves bonding the connectors for prosthetics directly to a patient's bone instead of a socket - and other ways in which the VHA is advancing care for patients with amputations. Click here to listen to the podcast.

McGuire VAMC Selected as Innovation Network Site

McGuire VA Medical Center was selected as an Innovation Network Site in October 2016, as part of VHA’s Center for Innovation.  In Fiscal Year 2017, McGuire’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service has 4 out of the 11 local Innovation Projects selected by local and national leadership to fund the development and proof of concept.  The four projects, led by Assistive Technology Rehabilitation Engineers, Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists, included:

  • 3D Printed Cane Clip to Improve Patient Safety on Mobility Scooter
  • Cellphone switch for paralyzed Veterans
  • Customizable Housing for Laryngectomy Patients with Irregular Stomas
  • 3D printed low vision button kit to improve abilities for Veterans with Visions Limitations

Currently, McGuire VAMC’s Innovation Network is encouraging VA employees to apply for the Innovation Spark-Seed-Spread Investments to develop, evolve and implement their innovation ideas.

VCU PM&R Welcomes New CERSE Executive Director

The School of Medicine is pleased to announce that Ronald Seel, PhD has been appointed the Executive Director of VCU’s Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering (CERSE – The VCU’s CERSE brings together researchers, clinicians, engineers, rehabilitation specialists and academicians from the VCU schools of Medicine, Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Education, Engineering and Social Work to promote research and education to enhance understanding, scholarship and clinical care for America’s Veterans and Service Members, and all individuals with disabilities and their caregivers.  Dr. Seel’s distinguished record of research, program administration, evidence-based practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration will support CERSE’s ongoing mission of service to individuals with disabilities through scholarly activity and clinical innovation.

Seel completed his doctoral training in Counseling Psychology and a fellowship in Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Psychology at VCU. He served as a Department of PM&R faculty member from 2001-2010, during which time, he served as Associate Director of Research for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center and Executive Director of the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC.  Since 2010, Seel has been the Director of the Acquired Brain Injury Research Program at the Shepherd Center’s Crawford Research Institute in Atlanta.  He is a fellow of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and chair of the Brain Injury-Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group. Dr. Seel has been funded on federal and Foundational grants for nearly $30 million, including Principal Investigator on 5, and has published 57 peer-reviewed scientific articles across a range of rehabilitation areas, including spinal cord injury, brain injury, Parkinsons disease, sleep, PTSD and research methodology

We are excited to welcome him to the VCU community as the Executive Director or CERSE and Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Seel will begin with VCU on November 13, 2017.

Update on VCU/Sheltering Arms Joint Venture Progress

The joint venture between Sheltering Arms and VCU Health Systems is progressing at a great pace! In this joint venture, the two organizations are coming together to open a new rehabilitation hospital in Goochland County. This hospital will be 114 beds with a theme of ‘therapy everywhere’ to encourage the healing process of patients beyond the gym and patient rooms. As we move into the final three design meetings with the architects and builders, we are anticipating breaking ground in April 2018. In addition to the progress around construction, teams from both organizations are actively working to operationalize the joint venture. This includes reviewing employment packages, job descriptions, work flows and numerous other functions.

McGuire VAMC Awarded VHA Grant

PM&R faculty members at the McGuire VA Medical Center were recently awarded a three-year, $500,000/year grant sponsored by the Veterans Health Administration's Office of Rural Health and Office of Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Servicesto fund a pilot program in telerehabilitation. Dr. Joseph Webster will serve as Medical Director for this new initiative. Congratulations, all!

Hupe Inducted into Eastern Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame

Jessica Hupe, MD, a PGY-4 resident in PM&R, was inducted into the Eastern Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 23, 2017. Hupe was recognized for her stellar career on the women’s soccer team at EMU. Click here to learn more. Congratulations, Dr. Hupe!


VCU TBI Model Systems Grant Renewed

VCU has been awarded 2.26 million dollars to study outcomes and evaluate treatments for traumatic brain injury. Funding spans five years beginning October 1, 2017. The Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (TBIMS) is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) within the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. VCU researchers will collect outcome data and contribute to a national database. VCU will also be participating in other multi-site studies. The primary goal of our VCU center project is to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of skill-building, psychotherapeutic, and educational interventions focused on resiliency for persons with TBI. In the past three decades, VCU clinical researchers have produced nearly 400 brain injury publications including books and peer reviewed manuscripts. Dr. Jeffrey S. Kreutzer serves as Principal Investigator with Dr. David X. Cifu serving as co-PI. For more information about the model systems programs, please visit



McGuire VA Medical Center featured in PBS documentary

PBS released its new documentary, "Polytrauma Rehab in the VA: Compassionate Care", on September 14. It features footage and interviews from the CENC site at the McGuire VA and shines a bright light on the Richmond VA's efforts in polytrauma rehabilitation. A "World Premiere" occurred September 6 at the McGuire VA. The full length documentary and three of the promo trailers are below:

Full Length Documentary

Polytrauma Rehab Long Promo 2

Polytrauma Rehab Promo 30

Polytrauma Rehab Long Promo 1

View the Flyer for the Documentary

1st John & Rosa Cifu Lecture in Brain Injury Rehabilitation Set for Oct. 6

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at VCU is pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Karol will present the first John and Rosa Cifu Lecture in Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Dr. Karol is a distinguished clinical scientist in the field of brain injury rehabilitation and a board certified rehabilitation psychologist.  In 2015 he was the recipient of the Lifetime Practice Excellence Award from the American Psychological Association’s Division for Rehabilitation Psychology.  He is the co-founder of the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, a member of the Board of Directors for the United States Brain Injury Alliance, and the Rehabilitation Psychology Liaison to the American Psychological Association’s Board of Professional Affairs. Dr. Karol practices in Minneapolis, where he is the president of Karol Neuropsychological Services and Consulting. 

Dr. Karol will deliver the John and Rosa Cifu Lecture on Friday, October 6, 2017, at 8:00 a.m. in the Kontos Building Auditorium on the Medical College of Virginia campus.  The title of his lecture is “Non-Compliance versus Non-Adherence: Conceptualization and Treatment.” The lecture is appropriate for providers in the field of neurorehabilitation, brain injury advocates, and other interested members of the community.  A breakfast reception will follow Dr. Karol’s lecture.

Direct any inquiries to  


New Faculty Members Join PM&R

VCU PM&R welcomed three new faculty members this month - Mary Caldwell, DO; Melody Mickens, PhD; and Amma Agyemang, PhD, MPH. Caldwell will see sports medicine patients at the NOW Center, and Mickens will see spinal cord injury patients on the inpatient unit at North Hospital. Agyemang has joined the CENC faculty, working on the $62.2 million grant conducting TBI research in Veterans and Service Members.

Welcome to each of you!

PM&R Hosts CENC Researchers for Annual Meeting

Researchers from across the country gathered at VCU on August 11 for the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) 4th Annual Meeting. The meeting was a chance for investigators to come together to discuss their research and further collaborate on important research issues. CENC researchers are investigating mTBI, commonly known as concussion, in the nation's Service Members and Veterans to better understand its effects on late-life outcomes and neurodegeneration, identify Service Members most susceptible to these effects, and identify the most effective treatment strategies. This $62.2 million project is jointly funded by the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more about CENC here.

PM&R Welcomes New Residents and Fellows

The VCU Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation extends a warm welcome to the incoming class of residents and fellows beginning their work with the department in 2017. Incoming residents and fellows include:

  • Jordan Adler, MD (Saba University)
  • Ellie Balakhanlou, MD (VCU)
  • Jared Gilman, MD (Caribbean SOM)
  • Steven Hansen, MD (University of N. Texas)
  • Sean Hoge, MD (St. Louis University)
  • Timur Korshin, MD (VCU)
  • Samuel Clanton, MD, PhD (Rehab Institute Chicago) - Brain Injury Fellow
  • Thomas Lione, DO (Hofstra Northwell) - Pain Fellow
  • Siena Ona, MD (East Carolina University) - SCI Fellow
  • Keth Pride, MD (University of Wisconsin) - Pain Fellow
  • Andrew Simoncini, MD (University of Texas Health Sciences Center) - MSK/Amputee Fellow
  • Jack Smith, MD (VCU) - Pain Fellow
  • Godfrey Thuku, MD (VCU) - Pain Fellow

We look forward to working with them during their time here.

19th Alumni Lecture Held June 16th

VCU Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation held its 19th Annual Alumni Lecture on Friday, June 16, 2017. W. Randal Westerkam, M.D., FAAPMR, RMSK, a 1997 graduate of the department's residency program, gave the lecture entitled, "Physiatry Phirst". In his lecture, Westerkam stressed the importance of promoting physiatry in the patient care team and knowing the benefits of a physiatrist being the first physician to evaluate a patient. The lecture was held in conjunction with the 2017 resident and fellow graduation, held later that evening at the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club.

2017 Alumni Lecture

Cifu Named Associate Dean for Innovation and Systems Integration

David X. Cifu, M.D, the Herman J. Flax, MD Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of PM&R, has been appointed as Associate Dean for Innovation and Systems Integration for the VCU School of Medicine. In this role, he will advance the strategic goal of integrating across VCU systems our scientific, clinical and educational developments in artificial intelligence and biomarkers for traumatic and cognitive neuroscience. He will also further advance VCU's vital VA and DoD partnerships, including his groundbreaking research through the Chronic Effects of NeuroTrauma Consortium, both locally and nationally. Click here to read more. Congratulations, Dr. Cifu! 

Dr. Katherine Dec Named AMSSM President

Congratulations to our own Katherine Dec, M.D. on being named the new President of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine (AMSSM)! Dec delivered the State of the Union address at the AMSSM 26th Annual Meeting last week in San Diego. 

Dec Speech

Best Practices in Pain Management Conference Set for Sept. 16-17

The Best Practices in Pain Management Conference is scheduled to be held September 16-17, 2017 in Williamsburg, VA at the Williamsburg Lodge. The conference is primarily aimed towards primary care physicians, pain specialists, physiatrists, anesthesiologists, neurologists, surgeons, orthopedists, internists, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals who are engaged in treating chronic pain. CME credit is available for physicians, nurses and physician assistants through this event. To learn more, view the event information, and to register, click here. Registration is only available online.

RRTC, ACE Research Develops Program to Help Youth with Autism Gain & Keep Jobs

Researchers from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and the Autism Center for Excellence at VCU have completed the first randomized clinical trial to show that if young people with significant autism receive a combination of job skills training and behavioral support, they have a higher chance of gaining competitive employment. Read more about the study here

Acupuncture Services at the Neuroscience, Orthopedics, and Wellness Center

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Huntoon will be offering Acupuncture services at NOW. This is the first time in the history of VCUHS that these services are being offered, and we are thrilled to have Dr. Huntoon on our team! The primary focus of treatment will be pain and addiction, but can be used to treat headaches, fibroid myalgia, and restless leg syndrome. 

Kreutzer Awarded 2017 Jennett Plum Award

Jeffrey Kreutzer, Ph.D., director of neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology in PM&R, was awarded the International Brain Injury Association's 2017 Jennett Plum Award for Clinical Achievement in the Field of Brain Injury Medicine. The award is presented biennially to clinicians and researchers who have made substantive and historical research contributions to the field of traumatic brain injury through clinical, translational, or basic science research. Kreutzer was chosen in recognition of the impact of his clinical research on the field of brain injury medicine. The award will be presented at the 12th World Congress on Brain Injury taking place in New Orleans from March 29-April 1.

Wehman to Lead $4.375 Million Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Grant

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, led by Paul Wehman, Ph.D., a professior in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, recently received a $4.375 million to investigate best practices for hiring and retaining workers with disabilities. Read more about the grant here.

41st Williamsburg Brain Injury Conference to Be Held May 3-5, 2017

Join us for our 41st brain injury rehabilitation conference. Known informally as the “Williamsburg Conference,” this VCU-sponsored event provides a thought-provoking opportunity to learn and interact alongside leading nationally- and internationally-recognized experts. The conference provides a unique focus on practical solutions and interventions to improve brain injury rehabilitation practice. Conference events span three days (May 3-5, 2017), including two day-long preconference workshops, and the two-day long main conference. Topics are relevant for a variety of rehabilitation professionals, including psychologists, counselors, social workers, case managers, CBIS, OT, PT, SLP, and physicians. For more information, please visit or email For questions, please contact Lisa McCarthy at 703-451-8881 ext. 224.