Empowering Brain Injury Recovery

Brain Injury Clinic Team

New Multidisciplinary Brain Injury Clinic at Bethany Children’s offers comprehensive care

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time to recognize the unique journey of individuals impacted by traumatic and acquired brain injuries. At Bethany Children’s Health Center, we are proud to announce the launch of our new Multidisciplinary Brain Injury Clinic, offering comprehensive care for children and teens with brain injuries.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), approximately 2.8 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. Every March, BIAA leads the nation in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month. The theme of this year’s campaign is “My Brain Injury Journey”, which reflects the fact that each brain injury is unique.

Bethany Children’s Health Center’s commitment to providing exceptional care for patients with traumatic and acquired brain injuries is evident in our CARF certification in Brain Injury and Pediatric Specialty designation. Dr. Tonya Washburn and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Tami McMichael lead our team, ensuring that each patient receives personalized care from the moment of injury through their recovery journey.

 “From the moment the child is injured, we want to be involved to help them achieve the best outcome possible,” said McMichael. “Dr. Washburn and I can see referred patients for consultations in an acute care setting before they are admitted to the Bethany Children’s rehabilitation program. This allows us to better prepare our team for the patient’s unique needs while enhancing the patient and family’s understanding of our program.”

The Brain Injury Program at Bethany Children’s consists of three main components: The Brain Injury Response (BIR) Program for patients who have suffered a devastating brain injury and are in a coma or near coma, the acute inpatient brain injury rehabilitation program, and the newly added Brain Injury outpatient follow-up clinic.

The Brain Injury Clinic features an inclusive, multidisciplinary approach, including specialists in physiatry, neuropsychology, psychiatry, and neurology. The team is made up of Dr. Justin Ramsey, Dr. Amber Stocco, Dr. Whitney Nall, Dr. Alexandra Roth, Dr. Rachel Blankenship, and Physician Assistant Elizabeth Durham.

This comprehensive care model allows the complex needs of brain injury patients to be addressed more effectively. Elizabeth Durham emphasizes the impact of including neurology and psychiatry in the Clinic.

“Adding neurology and psychiatry has been huge. Referrals that would normally take at least a month, often several, can now be addressed within the initial appointment,” said Durham. “It has also allowed really beneficial collaboration on care with so many experts weighing in on exactly which medication change or intervention would have the most efficacy for the patient.”

Many individuals who have sustained a brain injury experience mood issues stemming from the injury, medications, or the life changes it brings, leading to a period of grieving and adjustment.

“Having everyone’s voice available to handle these issues together from each angle has been incredibly impactful for these families,” said Durham.

In her new provider role spanning the Hospital’s inpatient and outpatient settings, Durham sees brain injury rehab patients during their inpatient stay, and in the outpatient clinic post-discharge.

“Establishing this role serves two primary functions,” McMichael said. “It provides a familiar face for patients and families in their initial outpatient follow up, which can ease the transition and anxiety for these medically complex individuals. It also provides greater context and detail on the patient’s medical history and concerns that were present during their inpatient stay to the outpatient provider.”

Durham agreed, saying, “A sense of relief can be felt when entering the room and patients and families have a familiar face to turn to.” 

The added benefit of the Clinic’s new approach is discovering any gaps between inpatient and outpatient care.

“Acknowledging gaps within education, follow-ups, medication and medical needs allows the inpatient team to work to improve the inpatient stay and discharge process for families,” said McMichael.

Within the past year, the Brain Injury Clinic at Bethany Children’s has seen approximately 19 patients.

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