Tag Archives: aneurysm

Personal Health Devices

Many people use personal health devices such as reading glasses, hearing aides and c-pap machines in their daily lives. For some odd reason, these items are often left at home when patients comes to rehabilitation.

Patients are asked to read written directions and hear verbal instructions in therapies. Realistically, they will need their reading glasses and hearing aides on a daily basis to reach their maximum rehabilitation success. After an injury, patients need their sleep even more than prior so it vital that they continue use of their c-pap machines. These are just a few examples of how personal health devices are important in rehabilitation.

Personal health devices should be considered like soap and toothpaste. Just as you would not forget soap and toothpaste when coming for rehabilitation you also need to remember all personal health devices.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Free Family Caregiver Kit

Families of brain injury survivors face a great deal of stress in many areas of life.  One of those stressors is the sudden need to manage their loved one’s personal life, such as managing their finances and making their medical decisions.  Columnist Dear Abby and the United States government has teamed together to offer a free Family Caregiver Kit.  This kit contains nine publications addressing a wide range of important issues such as finances, power of attorney and medicine safety.  The kit can be ordered for free (or alternatively, the publications can be downloaded for free) via this link:

http://promotions.usa.gov/dearabby.html

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Mood and Awareness

It can be scary when a brain injury survivor lacks sufficient awareness of the full effect an injury has had upon his or her life.   It can be all too easy for a survivor in such a circumstance to engage in what could potentially be extremely risky behavior. For instance, if a survivor does not realize that he can no longer walk, he may attempt to get up from his wheelchair anyway to walk to the bathroom. This could lead to a terrible fall. Similarly, a survivor who is not aware that she now suffers from severe memory deficits may turn on a curling iron for her hair and forget to turn it off. This could lead to a fire. When survivors gain in awareness of their situations post-injury, families understandably feel much more at ease as these risky behaviors can only decline.

However, there is one downside to such improved awareness. When a survivor first becomes significantly aware of his or her deficits, he or she often experiences a marked decline in mood. The survivor is suddenly aware of the severity and implications of the injury. It is depressing to realize that life has changed, in some cases irrevocably, and that success over these new challenges can only come after many trials and tribulations. It is important that the loved ones of brain injury survivors understand that this decline in mood is natural and expected. This is the time when a psychologist, counselor or psychotherapist can step in and help the survivor adjust to his or her new situation. With therapy and support, most brain injury survivors will see an improvement in mood after this initial decline due to increased situational awareness.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

It Takes Awhile

Many brain injury survivors become frustrated with the slow rate at which a brain injury heals.  They are used to the comparably more rapid pace seen in the healing of broken bones, cuts and other like injuries.  However, it is normal for a serious brain injury to require a much longer period of time before significant progress towards full healing is made.  I was reminded of this fact this past Sunday while watching the qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.  Former winner Dario Franchitti was interviewed by the hosts and was asked about how he’s been feeling since his horrific crash in a race on October 6.  He said that his concussion (brain injury) was almost completely healed.  After nine months his injury is not completely healed, but is almost healed.  This serves as a reminder that even world class athletes with access to the best medical care available have to patiently wait for healing after a brain injury.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Book Recommendation For Working With Soldiers/Veterans

In recent years, public awareness has been growing of the increasing presence of brain injuries in combat soldiers and veterans. Many doctors and therapists are now working with these soldiers and veterans but often do not fully grasp how this population may differ from other patient populations.

 
The military is in no way simply a nine to five job. For many soldiers and veterans it encompasses much of their life and identity. Under combat deployment, there are no days off from work. The soldier is on duty 24-7 without a true break or rest. Due to the demands and risks of the military, soldiers are part of a culture that is very different from that of the civilian world. For instance, it’s relatively common for an employee at a store to question a supervisor’s directives and perhaps even lodge a complaint with management. This process may last for several days and either see action taken or not. In combat, a soldier is not in a position to question a direct order. Life and death decisions have to be made moment by moment. The immediacy of danger also leads soldiers to develop intense and special bonds with one another. The loss of a fellow solider in combat may be felt as strongly as the loss of a family member. Since being a soldier so often encompasses so much of the individual’s life and identity, being dismissed from the military due to an injury is not like being fired from a job. The effects of emotions such as grief and anger felt resulting from losses suffered in the course of a veteran’s service are often experienced on an entirely separate level of magnitude.

 

Below is a list of a few books that may help doctors and therapists to better understand this population:

Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD by Patricia Driscoll and Celia Straus

On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace and On Killing: The Psychological Risks of Learning To Kill in War and Society by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Medication Safety

Prior to their injuries, many brain injury survivors were in good health. As such, these individuals rarely had to devote significant attention to  the taking of  medication. After suffering a brain injury though, survivors are often faced with many new health conditions that require integration of a strict medication schedule into their daily life.

 
Taking medication is more than just “popping a pill.” The difference between proper and improper medication allocation adherence can literally be a life or death matter. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has a wonderful, short brochure on medication safety that can benefit anyone taking medication. Click on the link below to access the brochure:

 

http://www.ismp.org/Newsletters/consumer/alerts/Brochure.asp

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Goodbye, Kent

As much as patients learn from their d0ctors and therapists, their doctors and therapists learn from them.    Many brain injury survivors have given generously of their time and energy in order to help further research and understanding of brain injuries.  Kent Cochrane, known in research literature by his initials “KC”, participated in many studies which allowed researchers to learn a great deal about memory.  Mr. Cochrane is one of the best known survivors to have volunteered as a research subject and fields related to the study of brain injury have greatly benefited from his generosity.  Mr. Cochrane recently passed away but his legacy will live on.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/famed-canadian-amnesiac-kent-cochrane-dies-at-62-1.1756363

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Exciting Research

As one of the leaders in post-acute brain injury research, the Transitional Learning Center is always looking to push the current boundaries of treatment.  A new area of research in the field of brain injury relates to the use of repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).  In a nutshell, rTMS involves using temporary, externally applied magnetism in order to change localized functioning of the brain so as to better improve recovery.  TLC Medical Director Dr. Brent Masel, Research Coordinator Jack Foreman and Physical Therapist Claudia Forshee recently presented a series of research posters at academic conferences which demonstrate both how rTMS helped a patient with a spinal cord injury recover hand function and how it improved mobility for a patient with a brain injury.  These are just a few of the examples of the rTMS research ongoing at TLC.  The research is presented below in its original conference posters format as powerpoint.  Though this may be a bit more technical than ideal for some readers of this blog, hopefully it will at least succeed in giving an overall idea of some of the groundbreaking research at TLC using this new treatment methodology.

rTMS Poster_final 

5Hz rTMS for iSCI Poster

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Returning To College

It is common for patients at the Transitional Learning Center to have suffered their injuries while attending college.  Understandably, it’s just as common for those patients to have chief among their goals a return to that endeavor.  It is always a good idea to test out the skills likely to be drawn upon prior to embarking on any such return, as there may be new needs or difficulties encountered that were not initially anticipated.  There are a number of good websites that allow anyone to take classes for free from participating college professors in a format known as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC).  Some of the better known MOOC platforms are Coursera, Udacity and edX.  Generally the classes are presented as brief video clips paired with quizzes or tests and in many cases will include assignments.  For the most part these classes tend to last from four to twelve  weeks and can require a commitment of four to twelve hours per week to complete, even for students without injuries.  One of my favorite MOOCs for brain injury survivors to use when they first attempt to re-acclimate themselves to the demands of a school environment is Open2Study.  The Open2Study courses are given by professors primarily from Australia and New Zealand.  An advantage of Open2Study is that the courses each last just four weeks and require only two to four hours’ commitment per class per week.  There is a one question quiz after each brief video and a ten question test at the end of each week’s module.  If the student successfully completes a course, he or she is given a Certificate of Achievement.  The reason I prefer Open2Study is that it is a far shorter and less intense MOOC than others.  Therefore, it makes for an easier first step back into a college setting with less likelihood of overwhelming the brain injury survivor.  It is a good forum for returning students to assess their needs post-injury in a relatively less demanding environment without the same level of stress often still furnished by other MOOCs, but it does still provide that opportunity to experience lectures from real college professors.  Below is a link to the Open2Study website:

https://www.open2study.com/

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury Like For You?

Brainline, one of the best sites on the internet devoted to brain injury, currently features an interesting piece consisting of a compilation of thoughts on what it is like to have a brain injury contributed entirely by survivors themselves.  Click the link below to read  the compilation and be sure to also read the comments section where many other survivors have added their thoughts on learning to cope with the brain injury experience.

http://www.brainline.org/content/2013/08/traumatic-brain-injury-is.html

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org