Research Department

Clinical Brain Injury Research at Pate Rehabilitation

Through our brain injury research, we contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding brain injury rehabilitation. Pate professionals collaborate in research projects with nationally recognized institutions, contribute to top tier research publications and present their findings at national conferences.



David Salisbury

Clinical Director, Psy.D.


Mary Ellen Hayden

Founder Emeritus, Ph.D. 


Patrick Plenger

Neuropsychologist, Ph.D.

Current Studies and Publications

Culturally Competent Rehabilitation

Dr. Carlos Marquez de la Plata gave a continuing education talk at the Louisiana chapter of the Brain Association of America in March, 2018.

The hour long talk, called “What is Culturally Competent Rehabilitation?” addressed disparities in rehabilitation outcomes with a discussion of implicit biases. Dr. Marquez de la Plata described ways clinicians can become more aware of various cultural preferences and values and how to adapt their therapy skills to match the patients’ values. The talk also covered several ways to modify therapies to take more of a a client-centered approach and improve the way clinicians demonstrate respect for patients’ autonomy, a collaborative approach, and desire to empower patients.  


American Psychological Association Division 22 Annual Meeting, 2018



Return to Work Outcomes After Post-Acute Rehab Following Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury

Primary Author: Gail Darden
Coauthors: Paige Salinas, Jessica Woods, Jeanine M. Galusha, Carlos Marquez de la Plata
Purpose: To evaluate the rate of return to work following comprehensive interdisciplinary post-acute rehabilitation programming for patients with stroke (CVA) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Summary: Our clinician-researchers examined 64 consecutive patients admitted to Pate Rehabilitation from February to December 1, 2017 and received a three-stage approach to interdisciplinary therapy that includes (1) assessment, (2) neurofunctional intervention, and (3) work training to optimize employment re-entry. This structured and tiered approach significantly contributes to successful return to work outcomes after an acquired brain injury, as . only 5% of individuals with CVA were working at the time of admission to rehabilitation, and this rate increased to 46% by discharge. Likewise, only 4% of individuals with TBI were working at admission to rehabilitation, and this rate increased to 20% by discharge. These rates are at least commensurate if not better than the rates of return to work reported in this literature.

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Driving Outcomes Following Post-acute Stroke Rehabilitation

Primary Author: C. Lighthill
Coauthors: C. Nelson, J. Woods, P. Salinas, C. Marquez de la Plata
Purpose: To examine the effectiveness of Pate’s comprehensive interdisciplinary brain injury rehabilitation programming aimed toward assisting patients’ return to driving goals.

Summary: Our clinician-researchers examined 64 consecutive patients admitted to Pate Rehabilitation from February to December 1, 2017 and received formalized return to driving programming. The return to driving program utilizes a series of evaluations, education, cognitive remediation, and behind the wheel training that is tailored to the individual’s strengths and challenges. Using this hybrid approach of in-clinic and on-the-road experiences, our patients achieve their stated driving goal at an amazing rate. For example, approximately 2.6% of patients with strokes are driving at admission; however, upon discharge, approximately 62% of patients with a driving goal pass the behind the wheel evaluation conducted while in rehabilitation.

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Biofeedback Cotreatment Addressing Foot Drop of Stroke Survivors 

Primary Author:   J. Downum

Coauthors:  J. Yeager,   A. Johnson,  K. McWilliams,  C. Marquez de la Plata

Purpose:  Due to stroke, daily functioning can be compromised.  Ambulation and balance are often impaired.  Biofeedback is an integrative therapy applied during rehabilitation of musculature. With neuroplasticity and rehabilitation, devices may be eliminated. 

Surface Electromyography (SEMG) Biofeedback is an adjunctive therapy providing information about weak muscles through visual and audio feedback. Biofeedback therapist and physical therapist often cotreat during the neurorehabilitation utilizing visual and audio feedback about musculature to build body awareness.  Neuroplasticity occurs and when appropriately applied, neuromuscular rehabilitation can improve patient independence (Bolek, 2010).   This study evaluated the combination of physical therapy and biofeedback as an intervention for foot drop with stroke survivors. 

Summary:  Our biofeedback specialist teamed up with several of our physical therapists to co-treat four patients with foot drop, a condition of weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot. 

The intervention was designed to help the patient build a sense of awareness of how much and how well they are moving their impaired foot during physical therapy to reinforce the efforts involved in walking correctly.  This treatment utilizes sensors placed on the patient’s leg that detects neuromuscular activity and projects the amount of activity onto a computer screen to alert the patient when they have sufficiently activated the muscle.

As this is a pilot study of a novel intervention, preliminary results demonstrate auditory and visual feedback can be used to improve range of motion at the foot and walking distance when used as an adjunct to traditional physical therapy for foot drop after stroke.  Just as important, patients also reported increased awareness and reduction in foot drag with this therapy.  Additionally, they viewed biofeedback cotreatment with PT as helpful.  Further examination of this promising therapy with an increased sample size and more rigorous design is recommended.



Effectiveness of Post Acute Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation in Those with Acquired Brain Injury

Jeff Schaffert(1), Jeanine Galusha(2), Carlos Marquez de la Plata(1,2)

UT Southwestern Medical Center Department of Psychiatry(1), Pate Rehabilitation Center(2)


Summary: Patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) can suffer chronic physical and cognitive deficits. Intensive post-hospital (post-acute) rehabilitation efforts have been shown to improve functional abilities following these injuries (Turner-Stokes et al., 2015) Various models of post-acute rehabilitation are used, with one relatively uncommon model being “milieu-oriented.” Within these settings, very little is known regarding patient’s functional outcomes or the model’s overall effectiveness. Thus, the primary aim of this study was to evaluate functional improvements in patients with TBI and CVA admitted to a milieu-oriented comprehensive post-acute rehabilitation program.


  • All of the improvements reached at least a minimally clinically important difference, and the majority of scores were consistent with a robust clinically important
  • Results suggest that on average, patients who attended a milieu-oriented program made significant functional improvements in areas related to ability, adjustment to injury, and
  • Future studies should examine specific factors related to improvement within a milieu-oriented setting (e.g., injury characteristics, time since injury, age at injury, cultural, )
  • Research comparing models of post-acute rehabilitation are needed, and comparisons across different models would further serve to investigate the effectiveness of a milieu-oriented rehabilitation

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Pate Clinical Director Dr. David Salisbury is one of the authors of an abstract on virtual reality and neurorehabilitation that will be presented at the 4th Annual Federal Interagency Conference on Traumatic Brain Injury.  The upcoming symposium takes place in the summer of 2018 in Washington, D.C.

Dahdah, M., Bennett, M., Prajapati, P., Parsons, T., Sullivan, E., Driver, S., Salisbury, D. (2018). The Impact of Virtual Reality on Executive Functioning Training and Association With Neurorehabilitation Outcomes.

Dr. Carlos Marquez de la Plata co-authored an article published in Neuroprotection in Critical Care and Perioperative Medicine (October 2017).

Imaging Assessment of Brain Injury was written by Matthew A. Warner, Carlos Marquez de la Plata, David S. Liebeskind, and Ramon Diaz-Arrastia.

Biofeedback and Stroke Recovery

Pate biofeedback therapist Jana Downum conducted a study to evaluate the use of biofeedback during physical therapy to address foot drop in stroke patients. The study provided additional biofeedback therapy in stroke survivors’ regular physical therapy regime. The initial data suggests a positive effect with gains observed in several patients, including better control of the foot and ability to walk longer distances.  Currently, Jana is co-treating with Physical therapy, Occupation therapy, and Speech therapy helping patients regulate their physiology during treatment.

Jana has an M.A. from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. from the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences at Saybrook University.

presentation at conference

Gait Study

Jessica and Jenna Yeager, physical therapists at Pate, conducted a study on tape gait training in a sample of 11 post-acute stroke patients. Their study confirmed that applying a simple treatment often used in Parkinson’s treatment was highly effective.

Results presented at The International Brain Injury Association’s World Congress in 2017. View the poster.

PERPOS Validation Study Participants

Pate’s innovative PERPOS measuring tool was validated by the peer reviewed journal, NeuroRehabilitation. The PERPOS is a tool for defining structure and distractions within a given environment used by rehabilitation therapists to modify treatment environments and to track progress in functioning within various environments.

The study found a strong association between the MPAI-4 total score and the PERPOS total score suggesting the instrument has very good validity for use with brain injured individuals. 

Marquez de la Plata, C., Qualls, D., Plenger, P., Malec, J., Hayden, M. (2017). Ecologically Relevant Outcome Measure for Post-Inpatient Rehabilitation. Neurorehabilitation, doi: 10.3233/NRE-161403

Read the abstract


Pate’s Paige Salinas, LCSW, CBIS, Jennifer Featherston, Ph.D., LPC, CRC, CVE, (EAGALA Certified), and Carlos Marquez de la Plata, Ph.D. presented Patient-Centered Vocational Rehabilitation for Individuals With Acquired Brain Injuries.

American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine’s 94th Annual Conference in Atlanta, October 2017


Dr. Carlos Marquez de la Plata presented a collaborative project with individuals from Brown University, ABI in New Zealand, and NYU: Community Reintegration in Low-Resource Settings: Unmet Needs and Family Participation in Rehabilitation Process.

2017 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine 94th Annual Conference


BIAA Position Paper

Dr. Carlos Marquez de la Plata was one of the authors of a clinical paper for the non-profit Brain Injury Association of America.

Cioe, N., Seale, G., Marquez de la Plata, C., Groff, A., Gutierrez, D., Ashley, M., Connors, S. (2017). Brain Injury Rehabilitation Outcomes: A Position Paper of the Brain Injury Association of America.


Pate Rehabilitation’s innovative PERPOS tool was validated in the peer reviewed journal, Neurorehabilitation. Marquez de la Plata, C., Qualls, D., Plenger, P., Malec, J., Hayden, M. (2017).

Ecologically Relevant Outcome Measure for Post-Inpatient Rehabilitation. Neurorehabilitation, doi: 10.3233/NRE-161403 (2017)




Plenger, P., Krishnan, K., Cloud, M., Bosworth, C., Qualls, D., Marquez de la Plata, C. published fNIRS-based Investigation of the Stroop Task after TBI in Brain Imaging & Behavior, 10, 357-366. (2016)