Brain Injury Awareness Month

Today’s guest blog comes to us from our partners at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and this year’s campaign theme is #ChangeYourMind. The focus of the campaign is to educate the public on the incidence of brain injuries and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families. Once you’ve had a chance to read the blog below, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Working with our partners to drive important health conversations in our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

The Brain Injury team at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun treated a 16 year old female who sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury from a car accident.  She was initially admitted with severe confusion, excessive sleep and low interest. Her physical needs required total assist for ambulation, self care, and cognition.  As she started ‘waking up’  through her recovery, her behavior level progressed to refusals and increased negative behaviors.  She then displayed intense confabulation and perseveration, emotional liability, restlessness, bouts of verbal aggression, and decreased insight into her deficits.  The treating team identified strategies to respond to her behaviors including environmental changes and consistent language allowing her to progress in her rehabilitation.  It was imperative that she was with a trained team during the initial process of her recovery to support her needs as well as the needs of her family.  Her family also participated in 2 family meetings (an initial and discharge), family training, and a community re-integration outing.  She discharged at a supervision level physically, still requiring assistance with cognition.  She attended outpatient therapy, then returned to school part time, and then eventually back as a full time student.

The Brain Injury Certified program at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun has a higher discharge to community (85.5%) than the national average (77%) and a measurable 9 points higher functional increase than those of the national average.  Our patients rate their readiness for home and community post inpatient rehab at 96%.  There are Certified Brain Injury Specialists in nursing, case management, and the therapy team.

We are pushing out this final version of the Patient Placement Guide so patients are more likely to find the right level of care at the right time. It is critical for patients and clinicians to know exact needs of the patient and the exact services of facilities. Unfortunately, some facilities choose names that make it confusing for both the general public as well as professionals to know exactly what they offer.

TBI produces a complex constellation of medical consequences including physical, emotional, behavior and cognitive deficits. Here’s an overview of symptoms from Mayo Clinic. There are also numerous links to additional resources that might be helpful here.

More attention has been drawn to the issues that arise from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) partially due to recent combat options as well as sports injuries.  Earlier this month, there was this article about former Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells. and his recent diagnosis of brain trauma. As Brain Injury Awareness Month draws to a close, these types of stories help to focus our attention on the struggles and needs of those who have to deal with TBI’s all year long.


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