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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The Legacy of Phineas Gage: Healing from Trauma

Ragan SchriverSocial Work

In 1848 Phineas Gage had an accident in which a metal rod shot through his head, impacting the frontal cortex of his brain. What seemed like a life threatening event became an icon of the resiliency of the human brain to recover from trauma in that Gage was able to function well post trauma. The concept of human resiliency from trauma has surged in recent years through quality research programs such as the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) study and lead to evidence based treatment modalities for those who’ve experienced trauma. The College of Social Work has harnessed this research to provide MSSW students with a certificate program in Trauma Treatment. Capitalizing on its trauma treatment knowledge, the college has formed a partnership with Catholic Charities USA and AmeriCorps to support veterans, a population which quite often deals with extensive trauma, through a trauma-informed, peer-to-peer casework program which has yielded positive results for participants.

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