If I only had a Brain

The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) is a longitudinal health study started in the 1940’s. Its original goal was to track patients and measure risk factors relating to cardiovascular disease. A vast majority of the first cohort of study participants are deceased, but the legacy they leave in deciphering risk factors for heart disease lives on. The study has been so successful that it is now branching out to look at more aspects of health.

My team of 10 interns is in the process of going through hundreds of Generation 3 charts to identify and report patients that have had a traumatic brain injury. We compile the reports and enter them into BU’s database for further analysis by the top researchers. My Boston College education thus far has prepared me immensely for this experience. The intense biology laboratory courses have given me insight into the details of a research study and my background in liberal arts has helped me hone my attention to detail. Details are imperative in this study, as one mention of “concussion”, “head injury” or the like in the hundreds of pages of a chart lead to a traumatic brain injury report.

The medical humanities and french courses I have taken give me an edge in this world, as I am very comfortable analyzing literature and paying attention to minute details in large written works. In particular, my medical humanities courses have shown me the importance of holistic patient care and the significance of the small things. My work at FHS has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of patients because an early diagnosis of dementia leads to early care and treatment. Additionally, FHS has the potential to create a connection between traumatic brain injuries and dementia, which could change the way we see concussions and lead to more protective protocol regarding brain health.

Written by Hannah Bowlin, BC Class of 2017



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