Suffering a serious blow to the head in an accident that causes traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to a lengthy recovery process.
To help you understand what you may be facing in terms of treatment and costs as you or a loved one recovers from a brain injury, the law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., presents the following information.
Emergency medical care typically includes stabilizing the head and neck, ensuring there is an adequate oxygen supply to the brain and minimizing secondary damage due to inflammation or bleeding.
Imaging tests such as MRIs or CT scans may be used to gauge the extent of damage and to determine whether the patient’s brain has been “bruised.”
A TBI patient may also receive a variety of medications such as analgesics for pain relief and pain management, anti-coagulants to prevent blood clots, anti-convulsants to prevent seizures and anti-anxiety drugs to lesson feelings of fear and anxiety.
A patient with severe TBI may be admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). The patient may be unconscious or in a coma. A variety of medical equipment may be immediately put to use in order to stabilize and care for the TBI patient, including:
- Ventilator (or respirator) to help with breathing
- Nasogastric tube (NG tube) to deliver medication and nutrients directly to the patient’s stomach
- EKG machine to monitor the heart
- Pulse oximeter to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood stream
- Foley catheter to collect and monitor urine output.
Depending on the type of injury suffered, a TBI patient may require emergency surgery. Often, a procedure is performed to remove hematomas, which is clotted blood that forms from bleeding outside or within the brain. Surgery may also be needed to:
- Repair a severe skull fracture or to remove pieces of skull from the brain
- Remove a piece of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain.
Rehabilitation for a brain injury patient begins as soon as possible. It may be done in a specialized unit of a trauma hospital, or the patient may be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital or similar medical center dedicated to brain injury recovery.
A team of health care professionals with specialized training in brain injury will work with the patient to increase his or her ability to perform such daily living activities as dressing, eating, walking, speaking and more.
The type and duration of rehabilitation required will depend on the severity of the brain injury and on what part of the brain was injured.
Rehab may take place over several weeks, months or years. It is often referred to as:
- Acute rehab – First attempts to regain abilities lost due to the patient’s brain injury
- Subacute rehab – A less intensive level of rehabilitation services conducted over a longer period of time for a less severely injured patient
- Postacute rehab – A more intensive therapy designed to help the patient regain the most independent level of functioning possible. This may take place in a residential rehabilitation facility such as a group home for recovering TBI patients.
The many medical professionals involved with a TBI patient’s recovery may include specialists in the areas of:
- Occupational therapy – Teaching the skills necessary to perform everyday activities
- Physical therapy – Helping with coordination, balance and mobility
- Speech and language pathology – Teaching the patient to speak clearly or to use assistive communication devices, if necessary
- Vocational therapy – Assessing the patient’s ability to return to work and suitable vocational opportunities and providing resources for addressing common challenges in the workplace.
- Psychology – Helping the patient to deal with emotional issues connected to the injury and a changed life
A physiatrist, which is a doctor trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, will oversee the entire rehabilitation process. A social worker or case manager may work to facilitate the patient’s access to services in the community.
In the most serious cases, a TBI patient will require ongoing, around-the-clock care for the rest of his or her life. In such cases, specialists will develop a life care plan for the patient. This is a detailed report that addresses the patient’s long-term medical, psychological and rehabilitation care and lifestyle requirements.
Development of a life care plan involves the work of medical, social work, rehabilitation and psychology professionals as well as a life care planner and an economic expert who can forecast costs. The plan must take into account the patient’s prognosis as well as the goals, needs and interests of the patient and his or her family.
A life care plan provides recommendations for current and future provision of such needs as:
- Medical and psychological testing and assessment
- Psychological testing and assessment
- Medical examination and treatment needs
- Rehabilitative therapy (physical, vocational, occupational)
- Psychological counseling and therapy
- Disposable medical supplies
- Home- or facility-based care
- In-home aides / personal assistance
- Adaptive devices (walker, wheelchair, hospital bed), including maintenance and replacement schedules
- Home architectural and furnishing adaptations (ramps, wider doorways, bathroom renovations)
- Transportation adaptation (wheelchair accessible van) or assistance
- Potential sources of care, medication, supplies and equipment
- Support groups and other available resources.
Contact a Brain Injury Attorney Serving New Jersey and New York
If you are dealing with the financial consequences of a serious brain injury, the accident and injury lawyers at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., can help you.
We work with medical and financial specialists to determine the needs of our clients and their families, and we work diligently to seek the compensation they need for a secure life ahead. We have been assisting catastrophic accident victims in New Jersey and New York since 1981.
Call 1-800-LAW-2000 or reach us online to receive a free consultation. Our initial consultations are free, and we do not charge attorney’s fees unless we obtain compensation for you. We can meet in one of our many offices or, if you prefer, in your home or at the hospital. We also provide consultations by phone or through the Internet.
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