Treatment / Rehabilitation Team
Survivors of traumatic brain injury are likely to receive hospital and rehabilitative care from a wide range of professionals. Indeed, a multi-disciplinary treatment and rehabilitative approach is justified in cases of traumatic brain injury. A very brief summary of the role each professional may play follows. Note, however, that the needs of each patient are unique, and many of the following specialists may not therefore be required. Likewise, still other patients may require the services of orthopedics, otolaryngologists, and others, not discussed below.
Physician specialist trained in the surgical intervention of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscle. Often- times the team coordinator in cases of “moderate” to “severe” traumatic brain injury.
Physician specialist trained in medical treatment of nervous system, including brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. May be called upon to diagnose injury and consult on immediate medical care. Seek neuropsychologist opinion if injury called “mild” or “short-term”
Physician specialist with emphasis both in physical medicine and rehabilitative medicine. Directed at renewing function, these doctors are trained both in neurology and orthopedics.
Psychologist specialist trained to assess brain function through test batteries designed to measure cognitive deficits. Thereafter, selects and conducts rehabilitative efforts.
(e) Respiratory/Pulmonary Therapist.
Trained therapist that assist the pulmonary needs of a patient, including maintenance of ventilators employed to insure clear airways, especially on comatose patients.
(f) Physical Therapist.
Trained therapist whose focus is on motor function, coordination, balance, and endurance. Physical therapists actually work with the patient exercising and strengthening muscles.
(g) Occupational Therapist.
Trained therapist teaching rehabilitation skills to the patient. The focus is on both gross and fine motor skill within the context of daily living. Areas of training may include bathing, toileting, feeding, and dressing.
(h) Speech Pathologist.
Trained specialist whose sole focus is on speech and communication deficits. Depending on severity of deficit, oral communication, written communication and computer training may be utilized and/or analyzed.
(i)Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.
Trained counselors, whose task is to identify, generally through comprehensive testing, those transferable skills, which will help restore the patient to the work force. Tests can include the Crawford Small Parts Test, the Bennett Hand Tool Test, the Purdue Peg Board Test, the Wrest Packaging Test, various motor coordination tests, manual dexterity test, form perception test, problem solving test, visual speed and accuracy test, verbal comprehension test, and weight lifting and carrying test. Victims of traumatic brain injury face almost insurmountable challenges to job re-entry. Vocational rehabilitation counselors are key to their re-entry to the work force.
(j) Rehabilitation Case Manager.
Generally a rehabilitation case specialists” job is to coordinate the goals of the patient and patient’s family. The case manager coordinates rehabilitative staff and serves as an advocate for the patient. Case managers” work directly with the family and often times deal with the intricacies of insurance and funding for treatment.
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