Health Tips Tuesday: traumatic brain injury challenges

Dr. Barry Rodstein discusses the challenges for those living with a TBI. (Segment sponsored by Baystate Health Outpatient Center and Shields Health Care)
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 2:20 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorize a traumatic brain injury as a “major cause of death and disability in the United States.”

Dr. Barry Rodstein, interim chief of physical medicine and rehabilition division at Baystate Health, discusses the challenges for those living with a TBI.

The CDC reports that 166 Americans die from TBI-related injuries each day. What should those diagnosed do to receive the best care?

“Patients with a TBI usually go to a truama center such as Baystate Medical Center where the short term treatment is focused toward supporting them and preventing worsening of the injury. The challenge is often in the long term. We have done a great job in america keeping these people alive to some extent minimizing the extent of the injury. For a lot of patients with severe traumiatic injury though, there are a lot of cognitive and behavioral problems that develop. The real challenge is being able to support them in their enviornment in the community.”

What are the medications used to treat TBI and are they effective?

“There are not a lot of specific medications for traumatic brain injury. In the accutate hospital stage, we are using intensive care medications to support them. Long-term, it is aimed at their particular problems and those things are used for other things that are not traumatic brain injury, so there may be medications to keep people more alert, medications for any of the pyshiatric problems such as depression. Some people have problems with impulsive behavior mood, so there are medications for things like that.”

What are the challenges around lack of good support systems for TBI?

“We are focused on short term rehab. It’s fairly easy sometimes to get these patients into rehab center where they will stay four to six weeks typically. After that is where it becomes a problem. Some of these people may not able to live independently. They might be able to walk, they may be able to eat, they may be able to communicate, but they have cognitive issues that prevent them really being independent. If someone has really good social support, they often can go home with a parent of a spouse a child, but if they don’t have that level of social support or if there behavioral problems are so severe then they don’t have that option and that can be very challenging.”

(Segment sponsored by Baystate Health Outpatient Center and Shields Health Care)