Rabinowitz Research


  • Research Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Associate Director, Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute

Brain Injury Neuropsychology Laboratory
Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute
50 Township Line Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027

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Dr. Rabinowitz is interested in chronic brain injury outcomes across the spectrum of TBI severity. In particular, her work focuses on the psychosocial factors that confer resilience after brain injury, with an interest in self-regulation as a key mechanism. A number of Dr. Rabinowitz’s projects leverage mobile technology to augment brain injury assessment and intervention. She works with local and national collaborators on studies of long-term brain injury outcomes, including neuroimaging studies to elucidate neuropathological substrates of chronic and neurodegenerative effects of brain injury, and large epidemiological studies of participation in contact sports as a risk factor for cognitive and emotional dysfunction later in life.

Research Focus Areas

Predictors of outcomes after moderate to severe TBI

Clinical outcome from moderate to severe TBI is heterogeneous, with some patients exhibiting impressive recovery and others facing severe disability. Predicting which patients will struggle and which will thrive is a challenge. Cognitive deficits and emotional dysfunction are among the most disabling symptoms. Community participation — broadly defined as engaging in roles related to productivity, social relationships, and meaningful recreational activities — is also an area of major importance to individuals with TBI and their caregivers. My research focuses on individual patient characteristics and social determinants of health that may influence recovery from moderate to severe TBI. This work is funded by an award from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), designating Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute/Moss as a TBI Model System, and it has also been funding by a National Institute of Health (NIH) R03 and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. We are also part of a number of multisite collaborative projects, including CARE4TBI, a NIH UG3 award Comparing treatment Approaches to promote inpatient Rehabilitation Effectiveness for TBI.

Mobile Technology for Neurorehabilitation

Despite the high prevalence of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional dysfunction for those living with acquired brain injury, evidence-based treatments addressing these issues are lacking. Mobile technology represents an important direction for the future of neurorehabilitation — not only for its potential to obviate barriers to clinic-based care, but also for the exciting opportunities it offers for patient monitoring and delivery of “just-in-time” interventions. In my research program I focus on developing novel treatments for TBI sequelae based on theoretically-motivated therapeutic approaches and leveraging advances in mobile technology. My work in this area is supported by a NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Resource Center award to the Shepherd Center and a local research project funded through the NIDILRR TBI Model System program.

Risks to Cognitive and Neurological Health Related to Participation in Collision Sports

One focus of my work has been examining the long-term cognitive and emotional consequences of participation in collision sports with elevated head-injury risk. Athletic participation confers multiple physical, social, and emotional benefits; however, certain sports are associated with elevated risks of sustaining a concussion or mild TBI (mTBI). Although the vast majority of mTBI patients will recover fully within days or weeks of their injury, a significant minority go on to experience persistent deficits that have a significant impact on daily functioning and quality of life. My research in this area includes multiple large-cohort observational studies that examine the association between participation in collision sports as an adolescent, and near- and long-term cognitive and emotional health.