Choosing a rehabilitation center for a patient with a traumatic brain injury can be a critical and difficult decision. Since the overall goal of rehabilitation is to help the survivor function at home and in society, it’s important for the patient and their family to select the most appropriate rehabilitation center for their needs. There are many aspects to rehabilitation which are crucial to the recovery process for brain injured patients. Some of the rehabilitation options include home-based rehabilitation, hospital outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, comprehensive day programs at rehabilitation centers, supportive living programs, independent living centers, club-house programs, school based programs for children, and others.
Through testing, by a trained neuropsychologist, an individual’s cognitive, language, behavioral, motor, and executive functions can be assessed to help determine the level of rehabilitative services needed. In 1998, a Consensus Developmental Panel at the Conference on Rehabilitation of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury recommended that traumatic brain injury patients receive an individualized rehabilitation program based upon the patient’s strengths and capacities and that rehabilitation services should be modified over time to adapt to the patient’s changing needs. Additionally, the panel recommended that individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support also be involved in a traumatic brain injury survivor’s care.
Specialized therapists help the patient adapt to new disabilities or make environmental modifications to make everyday activities easier and to limit patient frustration. Some patients may need medication for psychiatric and physical problems resulting from the traumatic brain injury. A very critical factor in recovery is the family’s ability to provide social support for the patient by being involved in the rehabilitation program. In addition, family members may also benefit from psychotherapy. All these factors are critical considerations to factor into choosing a rehabilitation center for the traumatically brain injured.
Care Partners Hospital, a specialty center for rehabilitation of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries in Asheville, North Carolina, encourages patients to consider not only the treatment plans being offered, but for family members to also consider care, services, and equipment. Specialty centers like Care Partners offer staff and physicians with focused expertise, large numbers of patients with similar injuries for peer support, and specialized patient and family education and support programs. They are also equipped to offer additional valuable services not found in general rehabilitation centers as well as follow-up services and ongoing support. Ask the following questions to evaluate if the center is right for you:
- How many patients are treated each year with injuries similar to those of the patient I know?
- How many patients are being treated right now?
- Are patients’ ages about the same as the patient I know?
- Is the facility a specialty center and, if so, for how long has it been a specialty center?
- What accreditations does the facility have?
- How many years of experience do the physicians have, on average? Staff?
- How long have the physicians practiced at the facility? Full time or part time?
- Which physicians, therapists, and other professionals will work with the patient I know?
- Who will be the patient’s primary physician, and does he/she specialize in either spinal cord or brain injury?
- Is air transportation available?
- Are specialty education programs available for patients and families? What are they?
- What is the family’s role? What are the policies regarding family visitation?
- Is designated low cost housing available?
- Who will help with the discharge planning before the patient comes home?
- Are long-term follow-up services provided?
- Are the physicians and staff currently involved with research and training?
- What is the caseload size for nursing, treatment, and counseling staff?
Finding the right treatment and treatment center is crucial to the success of recovery. These questions are to help make sure you start out on the right path. At Fisher Stark, we have helped numerous families cope with traumatic brain injuries and make important decisions throughout the treatment process. Sometimes, there is a lot involved in selecting the right treatment facility and weighting rehabilitation options. It can be overwhelming and no one expects you to go it alone. If you or someone you know has been traumatically brain injured, please contact us to see how we can help.