Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke Care

People who experience brain injuries of any kind often need long-term, specialized care to regain function and achieve a successful recovery. Kindred Hospitals offer stroke and traumatic brain injury recovery services through an interdisciplinary team led by specialty physicians. 

“At Kindred, we specialize in the treatment and rehabilitation of the post-intensive care and complex medical patient requiring continued intensive recovery care,” says Dr. Sean Muldoon, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Kindred Healthcare’s Hospital Division. “This includes specialized rehabilitation in an acute hospital setting for patients that have experienced any form of brain injury. From brain aneurysm recovery to dealing with the long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury, the Kindred team is there to facilitate the transition from hospital to home.”

A Specialized Care Team Dedicated to Recovery

Kindred Healthcare’s interdisciplinary care team includes neurologists, a rehabilitation physician, as well as a number of specialists in the areas of critical care, pulmonology medicine, neuroradiology, cardiology, infectious disease care, internal medicine, orthopedics and psychiatry.

Our interdisciplinary team works with patients and their families to create personalized brain injury or stroke recovery treatment plans that are customized based on individual needs.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma from an external blunt force causes damage to the brain. These injuries, which can include brain contusions, concussions, hematomas, blood clots, bleeding, and cerebral edema, can seriously impact the way the body functions, sometimes permanently. Even the long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury can be very difficult to manage and may include dizziness, migraines, depression, and cognitive impairments. A person who has suffered a more severe traumatic brain injury may experience physical, intellectual, behavioral, emotional, and sensory challenges, as well as communication problems that make it difficult to speak, organize thoughts, and participate in conversations. In cases like these, rehabilitation often requires long-term care with an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, and therapists that specialize in brain trauma injury recovery.

What Is a Stroke?

Stroke is a particular kind of traumatic brain injury. A stroke occurs when the flow of blood and oxygen to an area of the brain is suddenly interrupted, usually because of a blood clot or broken blood vessel, resulting in the death of the affected brain tissue. Though they can happen at any age, nearly 75% of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. They are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Some of the most challenging stroke outcomes include weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgement, or memory, difficulty controlling or expressing emotions, depression, and difficulty understanding or forming speech. Stroke recovery time varies depending on the severity of these symptoms, with stroke rehabilitation for serious cases often requiring a long-term, multi-faceted approach that includes physical, speech, and occupational therapy.

A brain aneurysm, another common type of non-traumatic brain injury, is an abnormal bulge or “ballooning” in the wall of a brain artery. Most aneurysms produce no symptoms unless they rupture or become very large. Once a rupture occurs, the brain aneurysm survival rate is about 50%, with most survivors suffering significant long-term neurological effects. Brain aneurysm recovery may include rehabilitative therapy to restore lost function caused by the hemorrhage and the resulting damage to the brain.

What Is an Acquired Brain Injury?

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is any brain injury that occurs after a person has been born that is not the result of a genetic condition. This term includes brain injuries caused by physical trauma, like the ones mentioned above, but also those caused by non-traumatic medical factors, such as meningitis, tumors, aneurysms, or strokes.

To learn more about how the interdisciplinary team at Kindred Healthcare treats traumatic brain injuries, and how we can help you, click on one of the following:

 


Traumatic Brain Injury Success Stories

Success Spotlight: Maria's Story

Looking Forward to the Future

Maria worked as a certified nursing assistant for 25 years, but her life changed when she suffered a stroke. She was admitted to a short-term acute care hospital, where she developed respiratory failure. Two weeks later, Maria was transferred to the intensive care unit, and then to Kindred Hospital for continued stroke recovery care and ventilator weaning.

Upon admission to Kindred Hospital, Maria was evaluated by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, therapists, and specialists, who developed a treatment plan for her complex medical needs, including stroke rehabilitation and ventilator weaning among a number of other things. Initially, Maria remained unresponsive and required the ventilator to support her lungs. Doctors knew that her neurological status and the condition of her heart presented great barriers to her recovery, but the Kindred respiratory, nursing, and rehabilitation teams were optimistic and ready to face Maria’s challenges with her. Slowly, the staff began to see Maria respond. She was gradually liberated from the ventilator under the guidance and encouragement of her pulmonologist and a team of respiratory therapists. The stroke rehabilitation team was then able to step in and get to work. Three weeks later, Maria’s tracheostomy tube was removed. With support from speech therapists, Maria started making great strides with her verbal communication and memory and accomplished critical milestones like passing a swallowing test, which allowed her to begin eating again. Occupational therapy helped Maria begin regaining the ability to do her own grooming and dressing, and physical therapy enabled her to sit at the edge of her bed and regain strength in small but meaningful stages. After a few weeks, Maria no longer needed acute medical care, and she was discharged to a skilled nursing center where she continued her stroke rehabilitation. “Even when they aren’t fatal, stroke outcomes can be life-changing,” said one of Maria’s nurses. “Maria will experience traumatic brain injury long-term effects, but she made incredible progress during her time at Kindred, and I have no doubt she will regain much of her lost function.”


Success Spotlight: Erma's Story

Making Her Husband and Rehab Team Proud

Erma has had a very complicated hospital journey. She suffered acute respiratory failure and an anoxic brain injury, meaning that for a period of time, her brain did not receive adequate oxygen and sustained permanent damage. Prior to this unfortunate incident, she was totally independent with her care.

Upon Erma’s admission, she was evaluated by the rehabilitation team, who determined that she was completely dependent on caregivers for all of her daily activities and functional transfers. While at Kindred, Erma underwent extensive rehab training and was able to make meaningful gains, which made both her husband and rehab team proud. By the time she was discharged, she was able to perform the following tasks with minimal assistance: simple grooming, upper body bathing and dressing, and bed mobility. 

Erma will experience traumatic brain injury long term effects, however, upon her release to a skilled nursing facility, she was demonstrating increased verbal expression and oral-motor control, as well as beginning to verbalize simple words on command.