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Message From the Program Director


"Welcome to Carolinas Rehabilitation Brain Injury Medicine Fellowship training program. We offer a one-year, ACGME-accredited fellowship training program with one fellowship position per year. The program provides a conventional educational curriculum with distinction in clinical service and training enhanced by excellent research opportunities.

Our fellows obtain well rounded training in all aspects of brain injury to help nurture a generation of skilled academicians, clinicians and researchers in the field of Brain Injury Medicine. Helping us achieve this goal is the support of one of the best rehabilitation facilities in the nation, Carolinas Rehabilitation, incorporating an excellent faculty and competent, supportive staff with exceptional clinical and research facilities. Our curriculum and rotations are designed to give the fellows ample exposure to management approaches along the spectrum of care from mild to severe injuries, acute to long term management and within both the outpatient and inpatient settings.

With exceptional clinical training and research opportunities, our Brain Injury Medicine Fellowship program offers one the opportunity to cultivate your professional aspirations. Our fellows are well-prepared to enter any practice environment and have been very successful in both private practice as well as academic settings.

Beyond the fellowship academic training, our location provides the opportunity for fellows to enjoy their time outside of the hospital. Charlotte, NC is conveniently nestled between the beach and mountains, making for easy weekend getaways. Charlotte is a southern city that has plenty of charm, great places to eat with award winning food and plenty of unique attractions. These attractions include many local museums, sporting events and an overabundance of outdoor activities including the US National Whitewater Center.

We would like to sincerely thank you for your interest in our program and look forward to meeting with you soon!"

Kelly M. Crawford, MD
Program Director
Carolinas Rehabilitation Brain Injury Medicine Fellowship

Brain Injury Fellowship Program

Carolinas Rehabilitation is offering a one-year ACGME fellowship in brain injury rehabilitation for a board-eligible/board-certified psychiatrist interested in developing further expertise in clinical management and research pursuits within this subspecialty. Carolinas Rehabilitation is a 192-bed, CARF-accredited rehabilitation hospital with 30 beds dedicated to brain injury. This fellowship allows for flexibility between clinical and research time and will be specifically designed to meet the candidate's interest.

Clinical opportunities include:

  • Inpatient consultations and outpatient evaluations
  • Neuropsychological evaluations
  • Patient management of traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with a focus on treatment of active medical problems
  • Neuropharmacological trials
  • Procedural management of spasticity

The clinical experience also provides time for learning opportunities with neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons located at the Level I trauma center, Carolinas Medical Center, adjacent to Carolinas Rehabilitation. Brain injury research at Carolinas Rehabilitation includes opportunities to participate in clinical trials initiated at either Carolinas Rehabilitation or Carolinas Medical Center. Interested candidates must have excellent clinical and academic credentials and be very motivated to be challenged in a dynamic clinical/research environment.

Please view our brochure (PDF) for further information on the Brain Injury Rehabilitation fellowship.

We accept applications ONLY from participants in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

Please send cover letter and curriculum vitae to:
Sandra M. Watson
Residency Program Coordinator
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
1100 Blythe Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203
Email: Sandra Watson


Meet the Faculty


Kelly Crawford, MD
Director, PM&R Residency Program
Medical Director, Brain Injury Program
Fellowship Director, Brain Injury Medicine


Dr. Crawford received her undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Exercise and Sports Science, Kinesiology and subsequent Masters Degree in Pharmacology from Tulane University. She received her medical degree from Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. She completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Cincinnati where she served as Chief Resident. Following her residency, she completed her fellowship training in Brain Injury Medicine (including traumatic brain injury and concussion management) at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Crawford is board certified in the specialty of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Brain Injury Medicine. She is an active member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Association of Academic Physiatrists, and the North American Brain Injury Society. Her clinical interests include spasticity, concussion, and neurorehabilitation.

Dr. Crawford is a football enthusiast and enjoys cheering for the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Bengals. She also enjoys movies and spending time with her family and friends.






 Nguyen 2021

Vu Q.C. Nguyen, MD
Vice-Chair of Academics
Director, Research
Medical Director, Specialty Clinics


Dr. Nguyen graduated from Michigan State University and completed an internship in Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics. He served as a physician in the United States Air Force, functioning as an Emergency Medicine physician and Interim Medical Director, and later practicing Family Medicine. After leaving the Air Force, he returned to residency training at Carolinas Rehabilitation where he served as Chief Resident and subsequently joined the faculty of Carolinas Rehabilitation.

Dr. Nguyen is board certified in the specialty of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. He subspecializes in Stroke Rehabilitation. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Directors on the American Board of PM&R, the United States National Association Representative to the Assembly of Delegates in the International Society of PRM, and a member of the Parkinson Disease Working Group with the World Health Organization. He was previously a member of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Academic Physiatrists where he Chaired the Education Committee and the GME Committee. He is a former President of the Residency and Fellowship Directors Council and has served as the PM&R Representative to the Organization of Program Directors Association. In 2017, similar to Dr. Bockenek in 2004, Dr. Nguyen was awarded the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award by the ACGME recognizing his excellence and dedication as a teacher.

His research interests involve spastic hypertonia, neuromodulation of hemiplegic shoulder pain, pedagogy and the education of medical learners.

Dr. Nguyen is married to another physician and they have 6 children - 3 humans and 3 felines. Their current interests include traveling, hiking, camping, and going to the beach.




Shanti Pinto, MD
Assistant Professor, Brain Injury Medicine
Director, TBI Model Systems

Dr. Pinto completed her medical education at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School as part of the Physician Scientist Training Program. She completed residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in 2016, where she received the Excellence in Brain Injury Medicine award. Dr. Pinto then completed fellowship in Brain Injury Medicine at UPMC in 2017. She has presented at numerous national conferences and received the Best Paper Award for current fellows at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting in 2017 for her presentation entitled “Cost-Efficacy Analysis of Routine Venous Doppler Ultrasound for Diagnosis of Deep Venous Thrombosis at Admission to Inpatient Rehabilitation” and in 2020 for faculty physicians for the presentation “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is Associated with Increased Dual Task Cost During Ambulation.” She is principal investigator of the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems follow-up site at Carolinas Rehabilitation. Her research interests include functional mobility following TBI, and she received the Richard S. Materson ERF New Investigator Research Grant Application from the Foundation for PM&R to validate the Electronically Augmented Timed Up and Go Test (EATUG) in adults with TBI. 

She serves on the program committee of the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP). She is an active member of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), participating in the Disorders of Consciousness, Chronic Brain Injury, and Prognosis task forces of the Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (BI-ISIG) and the Rehabilitation Treatment Specification Networking Group.

During her spare time, Dr. Pinto enjoys teaching her dog new tricks, running on the trails at the US National Whitewater Center, traveling, and trying new food in Charlotte.



Sima Desai, MD
Faculty Physician, Traumatic Brain Injury  

Dr. Sima Desai received her undergraduate degree from Emory University, subsequently received her masters degree in Pharmacology from Tulane University and her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine.

She completed an Internal Medicine internship at Flushing Medical Center and residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Tufts Medical Center where she served as Associate Chief Resident. Following residency, she completed a fellowship in Brain Injury Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Dr. Desai is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Association of Academic Physiatrists and the North American Brain Injury Society. Her clinical interests include traumatic brain injury, stroke, neurorehabilitation and spasticity.

During her spare time, Dr. Desai enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, baking and trying new food in Charlotte.       



Tobias Tsai, MD
Medical Director, Pediatric Rehabilitation at Levine Children’s Hospital

Dr. Tsai received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. He completed his internship at University of Rochester and his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. Tsai is nationally recognized as a leader in Pediatric Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, providing comprehensive services for children of all ages who have experienced a debilitating illness or injury. His clinical interests include cerebral palsy and brain injury. Dr. Tsai has presented at national and international medical conferences and is a member of many pediatric and rehabilitation medical organizations.

Dr. Tsai is married and has a son and daughter and enjoys spending time with family and friends.



Current Fellow


Rachel Teranishi, MD, Brain Injury Fellow

Hometown: Stockton, CA
Medical School: Stanford Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Professional Interests: 
Brain injury medicine, neurorehabilitation, spasticity management
Residency Interests: 
Yoga, hiking, travelling, trying new restaurants and recipes, and my dog Pepper

Why Carolinas Rehabilitation? 
I was looking for a fellowship that had a Disorders of Consciousness program as well as robust spasticity management exposure, and Carolinas Rehab had both! The supportive culture of the program was also very apparent early in the application process, so I knew I would find the mentorship I needed as I start my career in brain injury medicine. Charlotte is also an amazing place to live!




Past Fellows



Wendy Contreras, MD, Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: All Saints University School of Medicine, Dominica and St. James School of Medicine Anguilla
Residency: Beaumont Taylor Hospital, Taylor, Michigan

"Welcome to the brain injury medicine fellowship program here at Carolinas Rehabilitation! The fellowship program is ACGME-accredited and is conveniently located on the main campus of Atrium Health Charlotte, a Level I trauma center. As a fellow, I had exposure to a wide array of brain injury patients, both in the inpatient and outpatient settings. There were ample opportunities to pursue additional interests such as spasticity management, concussion management, neuropsychology, movement disorders, hydrocephalus clinic, neuroradiology and more. In addition, I was able to assist in management of patients enrolled in the emerging response program for the most severe types of TBI. I had the privilege of working with a highly-skilled and compassionate group of attending physicians. They did an excellent job teaching me the knowledge and skills I came here to develop, and I truly consider them lifelong mentors. It is also worth noting that the city itself is a great place to live. Charlotte is a diverse, multicultural city with plenty of things to do and a climate that allows for year-round outdoor activities.

I am grateful for my time at Carolinas Rehabilitation, and I whole-heartedly recommend completing your fellowship here! I feel confident heading into my career as a brain injury attending knowing that I have received the best possible training."


 Kyle Aman, MD

Kyle Aman, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: American University of Antigua
Residency: Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center

 Megan Franz, MD  

Megan Franz, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Residency: New York Presbyterian Hospital

 Tara Chilakamarri, MD

Tara Chilakamarri, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: University of Missouri
Residency: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine


Nisha M. Patel, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: Akademia Medyczna, Lublin, Poland
Residency: Hofstra North-Shore Long Island Jewish School of Medicine 


Gemayaret Alvarez-Gonzalez, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: Ross University School of Medicine
Residency: Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center

 Andrew Dennison, MD, Brain Injury Fellow  

Andrew Dennison, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: University of Pennsylvania
Residency: Baylor College of Medicine/University of Texas

 Lori Grafton, MD, Brain Injury Fellow

Lori Grafton, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: University of Rochester
Residency: Sinai Hospital in Baltimore

 Monica E. Crump, MD  

Monica Crump, MD
Brain Injury Fellow

Medical School: Medical College of Pennsylvania-Hahnemann School of Medicine
Residency: Baylor College of Medicine/ University of Texas