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|Traumatic Brain Injury Program|
Introduction Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. sustain a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, Alaska has one of the highest TBI rates in the nation. Every year, about 800 Alaskans are injured seriously enough to be hospitalized or die from a TBI and about 3000 more are released from the emergency rooms with what is considered a mild TBI. What happens following the injury or illness can make a critical difference in the recovery and outcome.
It remains difficult to predict how well someone who has a brain injury will recover. Partly, because there is currently no test that will determine exact recovery and each case is different. The Glasgow Coma Scale is used to determine the initial severity of a brain injury. This is often used in the emergency room. Other tools include the Ranch Los Amigos Cognitive Scale Revised , the Galveston Orientation and Amnesia Test. Regardless of the assessment; prognosis often depends upon factors other than the severity. This includes prompt diagnosis, early intervention and treatment, prior level of function, family support aggressive therapy and supportive therapy to prevent infection, malnutrition and other factors that can prevent a patient from a speedy recovery.
The goal of treatment at St. Elias is to help the patient function as independently as possible. By including the family as part of one care team we can ensure that the loved one's therapy is personalized and meets their unique needs. Not only does this help the patient but the family as well. Many traumatic brain injuries are very sudden and families often have little time to adjust to their loved ones unexpected illness.
The St. Elias Team
The Interdisciplinary Team at St. Elias believes that early intervention and continuity of care is the only approach to treating those with traumatic brain injuries. Upon admission, the team members will meet with the family to coordinate a care plan which will be implemented during the patient’s hospital stay. At this point, discharge planners are also meeting with the family to help discuss the patient’s plan for discharge and help the family prepare for the patient's potential arrival home. Some TBI patients will also be a part of the ventilator unit if the patient has experienced a high cervical spinal cord injury. Typically, these patients are ventilator dependent and may be part of the ventilator weaning program.