(Good Things Utah) March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and more than two million Americans experience a brain injury each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today we have Dr. David P. Steinberg, MD, MMM, Chief, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Executive Medical Director and also Tyler Christensen who is an SLP and TBI Program lead at the U of U Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital.

Here in Utah, they treat traumatic brain injuries and non-traumatic brain injuries at Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital and at Sugarhouse Health Center (Outpatient Rehabilitation).

Annually in the US, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living today with a disability-related to traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury is a public health concern that demands ongoing epidemiological study, increased efforts to prevent injuries from occurring, and research to advance medical options and therapeutic interventions.

Concussion or Mild TBI is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. The brain possesses an extraordinary ability to repair itself after a traumatic injury. This ability is known as neuroplasticity, and it’s the reason that many brain injury survivors can make astounding recoveries. 

Most traumatic brain injuries are caused by a fall, car accident, sports, or assault and Non-traumatic brain injuries can occur as a result of stroke, reduced oxygen levels, or brain infection.

Brain Injury Treatments

The U of U Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital brain injury program helps guide patients through a healing plan tailored to their individual health needs and includes the following:

  • Augmentative communication devices
    • A tablet or laptop that helps someone with a speech or language impairment to communicate.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation
    • A set of interventions that aim to improve a person’s ability to perform cognitive tasks by retraining previously learned skills and teaching compensatory strategies.
  • Community reintegration
    • Integrating back into society following a traumatic brain injury.
  • An assistive technology center
    • Hands free devices and wearables to operate the computer and search the internet with limited motor movements, turn on/off home electronics, or even lock/unlock their front door while away from home.
  • Family education and training

In addition, their team of doctors, nurses, and therapists collaborate to create a personalized recovery plan. Their team consists of the below:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech language pathologists
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists
  • Rehab nurses
  • Rehab educators
  • Physicians
  • Dietitians  

Prevention of TBI

Here are a few steps you can take to prevent head injuries and TBIs:

  • Always wear a seatbelt and use car seats and booster seats for children.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Wear a properly fitting helmet when riding a bicycle, skateboarding, and playing sports such as hockey and football.
  • Make your house safer by installing railings on stairs, getting rid of tripping hazards, and using safety gates for young children. Improve your balance and strength with regular physical activity to help prevent falls.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t drive, walk, or cross the street while using your phone, tablet, or any smart device.

The University of Utah Health created an outreach support program called TRAILS (Technology Recreation Access Independent Lifestyle Sports). TRAILS is an adaptive sports program. It’s is an outreach program of the Rehabilitation Center at the University of Utah Health for individuals with spinal cord injury or disease. Learn more about TRAILS here.

If you’re interested in meeting with one of the brain specialists at The U of U Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital, You will need a referral from your doctor to be admitted to their program.

You can visit their website or call (801) 646-8000


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