Toyota’s Way Forward Fund Aims to Boost Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injuries

Grants totaling $8.5 million will be made available in the first year, focused on helping children with traumatic brain injuries and their families.

Plano-based Toyota Motor North America has announced the Way Forward Fund, a multiyear initiative aimed at strengthening access to care and injury recovery support for individuals and their families, focusing on children with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

“With the guidance of our expert advisors, we want to help strengthen and expand access to support systems for children with traumatic brain injuries as well as their families,” Tellis Bethel, chief social innovation officer, Toyota Motor North America, said in a statement.

The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have cited TBI as a major pediatric health condition that is often under-recognized.

Children are over-represented in brain injuries and under-represented in TBI funding

Toyota Launches the Way Forward Fund

More than 2.8 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, 2.5 million of whom visit an emergency department.

Toyota said that children account for 32% of TBI-related emergency department visits, while they only account for 22% of the U.S. population.

The company said that current TBI funding is focused mostly on adults, with limited resources available to advance care and outcomes for children.

$8.5M in grants will be made available in first year

In its first year, grants totaling $8.5 million will be made available to select institutions with an emphasis on raising quality of care in communities with the greatest need in Michigan and Texas. That includes support for a wide range of resources and technologies designed to advance TBI treatment and recovery for children, the carmaker said.

Toyota said that it intends to award additional grants in subsequent years with the goal of creating a sustainable program with long-term impact.

Funded activities will include:

  • Programmatic operations designed to support children and their families.
  • Research and development of innovations and technologies that advance treatment.
  • Provision of equipment to increase access to tools for treatment.

An expert advisory board and initial recipients

Toyota said the fund will be guided by an external advisory board made up of experts in the field, including:

  • Dr. Flaura Koplin Winston, Philadelphia – Distinguished Chair in the Department of Pediatrics and founder and co-Scientific Director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Herman Gray, Detroit – Chair of Wayne State University Department of Pediatrics; former president and CEO of DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan
  • Dr. Pamela Okada, Dallas – Attending pediatric emergency physician, board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Emergency Medicine

“Quality treatment and early intervention are vital, particularly in a developing child with a traumatic injury,” said Dr. Winston. “I am honored to serve with Dr. Gray and Dr. Okada, combining our unique strengths to help address this critical need.”

The following recipients will use the grants to advance pediatric TBI care:

  • Beaumont Children’s/Corewell Health, by standardizing diagnostic models of care to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time throughout its network of hospitals.
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation, by improving care coordination for patients, families, and providers to ensure the best possible outcomes in addition to supporting the development of innovative technology for patient care.
  • ImPACTS (Improving Pediatric Acute Care Through Simulation) administered via Yale University, by increasing access to emergency care for pediatric patients with severe head injuries in rural and underserved communities.

Toyota said the fund aims to help show a path forward for patients and their families, demonstrating respect for people and continuous improvement. It said that future phases will expand support to additional states and populations in need, with the goal of supporting systems for children and their families in a sustainable way.

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