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Brain Injury Treatment

Clinician Descriptions

The clinicians that make up treatment teams may vary based on the type of facility. Professional rehabilitation team members have higher education, specialized training, certifications, and often a license and/or registration in their field. It is important that individuals with brain injury receive services from health care providers that specialize in brain injury.

Aquatic Therapists are occupational therapists, physical therapists, or recreational therapists with specialized training to provide therapy in a heated water pool. Aquatic therapists assist a person to increase strength, coordination, ambulation skills, endurance, muscle movement, and reduce pain. The ultimate goal is to increase the person’s functional ability with activities of daily living.

Case Managers/Social Workers are responsible for assuring appropriate and cost-effective treatment and the facilitation of discharge planning. Case Managers/Social Workers maintain regular contact with the individual, insurance company, family, and physician to make certain that treatment goals are understood and achieved.

Neuropsychiatrists/Neuropsychologists focus on an individual’s thinking skills, behavior, and emotional processing. Neuropsychologists provide services to reduce the impact of setbacks and help the person return to a full, productive life. Neuropsychologists’ evaluations provide valuable information to assist with rehabilitative planning and school, community, or employment re-entry.

Neuro-optometrists and Neuro-ophthalmologists are trained in the sub-specialty of both neurology and ophthalmology. These physicians understand how the nervous and vision system operate and, therefore, are able to diagnose vision problems related to brain injury.

Neurologists and Neurosurgeons are experts on how the nervous system functions following brain injury. Neurosurgeons correct trauma-related nervous system injuries.

Occupational Therapists (OT) use purposeful activities as a means of preventing, reducing, or overcoming physical and emotional challenges to ensure the highest level of independent functioning in meaningful daily living. Occupational therapists address activities of daily living (referred to as ADLs) such as feeding, swallowing, grooming, bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Further, they often assist individuals regain movements necessary to move the body on and off the toilet, bed, chair, car seat, and bathtub. OTs work on cognitive (thinking) skills for basic housework and money management, as well as social skills for community re-entry. Occupational therapists can address vision, sensation, driving skills, and fine motor skills (movement of small body muscles, such as in the hands). On occasion, an OT may assist with home evaluations, family training, and medical equipment assessments.

Orthopedic Surgeons provide surgical care for broken bones and soft tissue injuries related to trauma.

Pharmacists on rehabilitation teams are experts regarding medications and drug interactions for individuals with brain injuries.

A Physiatrist is a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. The physiatrist typically serves as the lead of the treatment team and makes referrals to the various therapies and medical specialists as needed. The physiatrist works with the rehabilitation team, the person with a brain injury, and their family to develop the best possible treatment plan.

Physical Therapists (PT) evaluate and treat a person’s ability to move their body. The physical therapist focuses on improving physical function by addressing muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and coordination. Functional goals include increasing independent ability with sitting, walking, getting in and out of bed, on and off a toilet, or in and out of a bathtub.

Pulmonologists are doctors that specialize in lung conditions and breathing concerns.

Rehabilitation Nurses monitor all body systems. A rehabilitation nurse attempts to maintain the person’s medical status, anticipate potential complications, and work to restore a person’s health. A rehabilitation nurse is responsible for the assessment, implementation, and evaluation of each individual’s nursing care based on specific problems.

Recreational Therapists provide activities to improve and enhance self-esteem, social skills, motor skills, coordination, endurance, cognitive skills, and leisure skills. For example, a recreational therapist may plan community outings to allow a person to apply their learned skills in a real-life situation.

Respiratory Therapists provide set-up and instruction for breathing-related equipment, such as oxygen tanks and suction devices, as well as providing breathing or suctioning care.

Speech/Language Pathologists (SLP) evaluate an individual’s ability to comprehend what is seen or heard, as well as express oneself through speech, writing, or other forms of communication. In situations where the individual is unable to speak, SLPs will train them to use assistive technology as an alternative form of communication.

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