Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: Interdisciplinary Treatment is the Gold Standard
July 27, 2023 by Steve Kerschke, PT
A catastrophic injury, like a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury is a life-altering event that impacts an individual’s physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities. The road to recovery is long and challenging, and no two injuries are the same, so no single rehabilitation program should be the same. Thus, effective treatment requires enormous resources to execute an interdisciplinary therapy approach.
The interdisciplinary therapy approach to treating traumatic brain or spinal cord injury is a comprehensive and collaborative method that involves a team of healthcare professionals from various disciplines who work together to address the physical, cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial challenges that individuals may face. This approach aims to provide personalized and holistic care to optimize recovery and functional outcomes for the patient.
Another benefit of an interdisciplinary approach is the continuity of care. In most acute and post-acute settings, a care coordinator is a key player who serves as the liaison or facilitator between the medical team, insurance company, family, and injured person. Commonly, patients make steady progress, so progressing the intensity and difficulty of therapy activities occurs regularly; however, this is not always the case. Sometimes unexpected obstacles arise, or patients do not respond to therapy as expected. As a result, the team works together throughout the rehabilitation process, adjusts the rehabilitation plan as needed, and ensures everyone is on the same page to keep the patient progressing towards his or her unique goals.
Interdisciplinary Medical Team
An interdisciplinary medical team often consists of healthcare professionals, like physical medicine and rehab (PM&R) doctors, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and social workers. Each member brings a unique perspective and skillset to the table ensuring a holistic approach to rehabilitation. For example, the physician(s) may focus on medical management, while the neuropsychologist assesses cognitive functioning, and the speech-language pathologist focuses on communication skills and social interactions. Together, the team develops a customized rehabilitation plan to address the individual’s specific needs.
The QLI Difference
Unique to QLI’s post-acute rehabilitation program, we have a variety of team members beyond the traditional interdisciplinary medical team who play a key role in delivering specialized care for everyone who participates in our program.
Trained as certified nursing assistants, Rehab Trainers have a unique set of skills that make them an essential part of the rehabilitation team. As the name suggests, they assist with more than just direct care needs. Rehab trainers help coordinate and carry out the therapy plan of care outside of the formal therapy setting in realistic environments. This may include various interventions, such as range of motion exercises, strength training, mobility training, and daily activities. In addition, Rehab Trainers play a vital role in collaborating with the rest of the treatment team by providing real time feedback related to therapeutic activities and goals.
Life Path Specialist
Life Path Specialists collaborate with the rest of the clinical team to provide guidance and support to shape the therapy program around what is purposeful and meaningful in a person’s life. As a result, rehabilitation is anchored to identity – who a person is and who the individual can still be. This not only guides recovery but defines life beyond.
Life Skills Specialist
Our Life Skills Specialists work closely with speech-language pathologists to lead the cognitive aspects of a person’s program. They help individuals learn and develop the practical skills they need to manage the key aspects of their life related to interactions, planning, organization, and maintaining a budget.
Family Services Specialist
Family services specialists specialize in providing support and assistance to family members and friends during their healthcare journey. They play a crucial role in helping families navigate the complexities of the healthcare system and ensuring that their emotional, social, and practical needs are met.
Here are the key aspects of a family services specialist’s role:
- Emotional Support
- Information and Education
Our service coordinators play crucial role in ensuring effective coordination and delivery of services. Their primary responsibility is to serve as a liaison between patients, their families, other healthcare providers, insurance companies, and medical case managers to facilitate a seamless healthcare experience.
Here are some key aspects of a service coordinator’s role:
- Patient Advocacy
- Care Coordination
- Resource Management
- Information Management
- Communication and Education
- Problem-Solving and Conflict Resolution
The Art of Rebuilding Lives
By integrating the expertise of these various professionals, the interdisciplinary therapy approach to treating traumatic brain or spinal cord injury aims to create a comprehensive and patient-centered treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each individual. A collaborative effort helps optimize the recovery process, improve overall functional outcomes, and enhance the patient’s quality of life.
The interdisciplinary treatment approach is not a new concept, especially early in a person’s recovery when medical complexity is high. Regardless of where a person is in their recovery journey, choosing a provider capable of executing this approach is critical to achieving long term, positive and sustained outcomes. True recovery is more than the science of intensive therapy delivered by a team of specially trained clinicians. It certainly starts with having the right team, but more importantly it is also the art of rebuilding a life.