GradImpact: Supporting Inmate Rehabilitation by Studying the Connection between Brain Injury and Criminal Behavior

    In the last few years, we’ve seen an increasing number of stories about traumatic brain injuries (TBI), particularly around professional sports and concussion rates. We’re hearing more and more about research projects to better understand the risks and long-term effects, but this topic isn’t new to Kim Gorgens, a neuropsychologist and clinical associate professor at the University of Denver. She’s spent her professional career studying the brain’s response to injury, giving a TEDx talk on the subject back in 2010 focused on the effects of concussions in student athletes. Within a few years, Gorgens was focused on a new segment of the population.


    Gorgens and her team of professionals and graduate students at DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology are working with 28 justice sites from jails to specialty courts and Division of Youth Corrections (with plans to expand) to better understand inmates living with traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to Gorgens, this is an understudied, vulnerable population, and overrepresented in correctional facilities. TBI has been linked to poor impulse control, aggressive behaviors, deficits in attention span, and higher risks for substance use disorders. The pilot data from one facility show that up to 96% of those inmates have experience at least one TBI.


    “This work is really about identifying problems and keeping them from getting worse,” Gorgens says. “Many of these folks fall through the cracks of society for reasons related to their brain injury.” Dr. Gorgens’ work has been featured in Newsweek magazine, and she hopes to continue to raise awareness for her research. To learn more about Kim’s research, visit the University of Denver website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.



    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.