A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any kind of injury to an individuals brain cause by either blunt or puncture trauma, which results in significant brain damage. There are a number of different treatment courses, through which a TBI patient may go. Initial TBI treatment will stabilize the patient immediately following the injury. Following the initial care, rehab care center treatment may be undertaken to help the patient restore normal day to day functionality. In more serious instances of traumatic brain injury, acute treatment may be needed to minimize secondary injury and other negative effects on a patients primary life support system. In the end, surgical treatment may be called for to prevent further injury by helping to maintain a patient’s blood flow and continue free flow of oxygen to the brain, in addition to minimizing any detrimental swelling or buildup of pressure.
Initial treatment of a traumatic brain injury begins upon arrival to a hospital. At the hospital, a team of medical professionals, generally led by a trauma surgeon, will meet the patient. Acting as the leader, the trauma surgeon will the direct the entire team. The trauma staff will initiate resuscitation procedures, monitor the body’s vital functions, respond to potential life-threatening changes and coordinate care with other hospital personnel.
The patient may need surgery for injuries. In addition to the trauma surgeon, the surgical staff could include the neurosurgeon, a physician who performs brain and spinal cord surgery; an orthopedic surgeon, a physician who works with broken bones such as fractures of the arms and legs or the spinal column; or a general surgeon. In addition to the physicians that are assessing the patient and their response to treatment, the trauma nurse will b caring for the patient: providing resuscitation, stabilization and supportive care. The nurses have the responsibility to coordinate and provide communication within the hospital and with the family.
Once stabilized, the brain-injured patient will be transferred to a specialized trauma care unit. Care will be provided by the critical care nursing staff. The responsibility of the nursing staff is to monitor, asses and interpret important physiological functions, as well as to repeat these assessments at regular intervals while notifying both the physician and the patient’s family of any changes. The patient will be monitored for signs of infection and pain. There are other key staff members who also play an important role in this specialized trauma care unit. The job of the respiratory therapist is to assist in the initial efforts at resuscitation, to provide oxygen therapy, and to configure settings on a patient’s ventilator to ensure proper respiratory equipment functioning. Additionally, the patient’s respiratory therapist will monitor their breathing: looking at blood gas results and listening to the lungs.
In most trauma centers, a psychologist familiar with acute trauma is part of the team. Using crisis intervention techniques, the psychologist will assist the patient and family in decision-making during a crisis. The psychologist provides counseling and education about the injury, as well as assesses the cognition of the patient. A trauma social worker will also work with the family after the injury. Like the psychologist, the social worker will prepare the family emotionally and physically to face the ill or disabled patient. The trauma social worker will assist the family in making plans for the duration of recovery, especially if the recovery progresses slowly. The trauma social worker will encourage the family to consider role and responsibility changes while the patient is ill, including changes in finances and family support, and will also assist the family in discharge planning and most patients proceed to a rehabilitation facility.
The families of traumatic brain injury victims often have many questions when their loved one is transferred to a rehabilitative care center. Similar to the acute care facility, the brain injury patient will be cared for by a team of professionals who specialize in the care of trauma victims. Their goals are to stabilize the medical and rehabilitation issues related to brain injury and the other injuries, while also preventing secondary complications. Complications could include pressure sores, pneumonia and contractures. At a rehabilitation facility, the staff will also work to help the patient restore lost functional abilities. Functional changes could include limited ability to move, use the bathroom, talk, eat and think. Each day, the patient will participate in therapy. Initially, the patient may require staff assistance for even the simplest activities: brushing teeth, getting out of bed and eating. The patient also may require staff for safety because there is a risk of falling, eloping (trying to get out of the hospital to go home) or getting hurt. The patient may be confused and forgetful.
In some cases patients do not proceed to rehabilitative services because the injury is too severe. In these cases patients receive acute treatment and in some cases surgical treatment, but rehabilitative treatment may not be an option, as some TBI cases are too severe to allow for rehabilitation. In the event of any traumatic brain injury, once the TBI victim has received the proper course of medical treatment, the injured person or their family may wish to seek the counsel of on or more traumatic brain injury attorneys. Brain injury lawyers have the experience and information patients and their families need to know, concerning a patient’s rights and the due compensation they need receive for expenses such as future medical care, current medications and treatment, and pain and suffering. If necessary, the patient can use one or more brain injury attorneys to look into filing a traumatic brain injury lawsuit.