Since 2013, Home Health Solutions Group was one of the first home care provider to develop a specialized in-home care program to care for individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Receiving specialized, expert care after a brain or spinal cord injury is incredibly important for achieving the highest level of recovery.
Traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain that results in significant neurological involvement that creates physical injury to the brain. There are four main types of injuries suffered to the brain. Many times traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is the result of a closed head injury, when the brain tissue forcefully hits the skull, and it can cause increased intra-cranial pressure, bruising, bleeding, tissue damage or an excess of fluids around the brain.
Another possible cause of TBI is any penetrating injury suffered to the skull. This occurs when any object enters into the cranial cavity. Penetrating injuries often occur as the result of a car accident, or a gunshot wound. Going without oxygen for a period of time, even a few minute span, can result in an anoxic injury to the brain. When your brain is deprived of oxygen, brain cells will quickly die off and the damages can affect the entire brain. The final cause for TBI is due to toxic chemical agent exposure to brain cells. Any time a toxic chemical crosses the blood brain barrier; brain cells can be damaged or killed.
The degree of injury to brain will vary from case to case and can range from mild to moderate to severe. The severity and location of the damage will affect how greatly the neurological system is impacted, which will then regulate the functioning of other body systems. Following the initial injury, the Glasgow Coma scale is used to determine the responsiveness of the individual. For long-term prognosis, the utilization of the Glasgow Outcome scale will help predict how likely it is that the individual will return to their normal level of functioning, or not. The lower the rating on the Glasgow Coma scale indicates a greater amount of damaged has occurred. There are similar scales used to determine level of consciousness and responsiveness, which all help indicate the severity of the injury suffered. It is not usually evident until the rehab process how greatly the individual will be affected on a long-term basis.
The symptoms of TBI are going to vary greatly with each individual and the severity of their damage, but some main characteristics include a decreased level of consciousness, impaired response to stimuli, decrease in muscle tone, increased pressure within the cranial cavity, and the body’s inability to perform vital functions without assistance. Oftentimes following the initial injury, the individual may fall into a deep sleep known as a coma, which can last from days to even months depending on the severity. Patients who suffer from a TBI may spend a significant amount of time in an intensive care unit in order to just maintain vital functions.
Some people can completely recover from a mild traumatic brain injury. Others may suffer few impairments that may not even be noticeable. However, many times following mild to moderate injury, significant deficits will remain with the patient for life. How the individual is affected is going to depend on the area of the brain that suffered damage.
Immediately following injury there is a time that can last from weeks to months known as spontaneous recovery, during which the brain works hard to repair damaged neurons. Some people may require assistance for the rest of their life with daily functioning. Many cases will exhibit a return of functional skills even years following the injury.
Some persons with SCI or TBI may qualify to have personal care assistants. The need for a personal care assistant typically varies with the level of injury. For example, a person with paraplegia may be less likely to need a personal care assistant than a person whose arms are also weak from SCI (tetraplegia or quadriplegia).
Depending on age, financial status, and other factors, a person with SCI may qualify for funded personal care assistants, or may choose to pay out of pocket for assistance. In either case, it is important for the person with SCI to know how to hire, fire, and manage caregivers.
It is always recommended that you reach out to your family, friends, SCI physician, or UPMC Rehabilitation Institute case manager with any questions or concerns related to managing your personal care assistants. For more information about management of personal care assistance, please contact your SCI physician.
Respite care is a short-term, temporary break for caregivers who take care of family members at home. Sometimes it may be beneficial to both the person with SCI or TBI and the caregiver to have a short break from the home situation. Respite care is often completed at skilled nursing facilities. Should you have any questions about respite care, please talk to your SCI physician.
If you or a loved one has experienced an acute spinal cord injury, we're sorry that this has happened. We know that spinal cord injuries change many people's lives. Our staff at Home Health Solutions Group believes life can still be fulfilling and enjoyable, regardless of the severity of your injury.
If you are currently in a trauma center, your doctor, case manager or discharge planner will talk to you about the next step once you are stabilized. Home Health Solutions Group may be an alternative rehabilitation option for you, depending on the severity of your injury, your current condition, and your insurance plan's specifications.
At the hospital, immediately following an injury and again at a rehabilitation facility, you have access to specialists—neurologists, therapists, and other experts with experience and in-depth knowledge about injuries like yours. Receiving specialized, expert care after a brain or spinal cord injury is incredibly important for achieving the highest level of recovery. At the hospital immediately following an injury and again at a rehabilitation facility, you have access to specialists—neurologists, therapists, and other experts with experience and in-depth knowledge about injuries like yours. At Home Health Solutions Group, we believe you should have that same level of specialized, expert care at home, too.