Brain injury case management paves the road to recovery to avoid setbacks and breakdowns.
Jeremy was working on an oil rig near Bakersfield CA when the accident happened. In February of 2016, he received a traumatic brain injury when brutally pulled into a lathe while repairing it. A CT scan revealed skull fractures, a hematoma, and a hemorrhage.
Jeremy is just one of the hundreds of Americans hurt on the job in the oil fields. The number of drilling rigs grew by 71 percent in the last decade, and unfortunately with that growth, an increase in accidents and deaths.
Injuries are commonplace and workers are often struck by equipment or tools, fall, and even experience explosions. In Texas, the oil rig accident is the number 1 killer of workers in the state. Jeremy underwent an emergency craniotomy and was admitted to a post-acute brain injury live-in facility for rehabilitation. He was released after only 6 months into a new and confusing world.
After his accident, Jeremy realized that he was never going to be the same again. He was extremely depressed and self-conscious about his scars, his speech, and his appearance. “If I looked in the mirror, I saw my old self, you know, the same face, same hairstyle, same everything but inside I felt like a different person. Everything was ripped away from me.”
Jeremy had not received any services in over 6 months and was failing. “I wasn’t in the best of shape mentally. I was extremely depressed. Anxiety was bad.” He started having headaches and fear of not finding work with his deficits. Jeremy was going downhill quickly.
Building systems for continuity of care
What happens after someone you love or you have a traumatic brain injury? Because there is a lot more “after” than we think. Over 280,000 people in the United States are hospitalized every year for traumatic brain injury. That means there are millions of survivors and their recoveries are a lot longer than 6 months of in-patient care. More survivors also mean more people who need longer-term solutions and ongoing programs.
The impact of severe brain injury and ongoing medical care most often results in frustration, mental health breakdowns, and medical setbacks.“Depression is a common problem after brain injury and almost 50% of people who have a brain injury will suffer from it. Depression is associated with other mental illnesses, and can lead to alcohol and drug abuse,” says Christine Weaver, MAS, OTR/L, CLCP, CBIS, C/NDT, Founder/CEO, NeuroPraxis in Los Angeles, CA.
Due to modern medical advancements, millions survive brain injuries. But most people don’t receive case management which helps with recovery by organizing the very complex world of legal, insurance, and medical.
What does a brain injury case manager do?
A brain injury case manager oversees the overall care of the injured patient. He or she will prepare a tailored treatment program that is designed to meet the needs of each specific health, social and emotional need.
People who suffer from brain injuries need a higher level of specialized care than is usually available to them. Brain injury case managers pave the road to recovery to avoid setbacks and breakdowns. Case managers also mitigate risk and prevent regression of skills.
A case manager would first assess the patient’s resources and create a plan of therapies that would achieve their goals. The next step would be to address the family and social-behavioral problems that arise from brain injury. A case manager helps analyze what the patient needs and identifies very specific treatment.
TBI rehab is complex
“We provide help for families of brain injury patients as well as caregivers,” Weaver says. “I’ve always seen the benefit of looking at the whole patient, not just the injury, and that’s the most important thing that a brain injury case manager brings to the table. We can see and facilitate all the components necessary for success.”
Addressing social-behavioral problems is very important because an estimated 60% of people who are incarcerated have been affected by TBI, according to the CDC.
“I need the family or caregivers on board,” Christine adds. “I know it’s sometimes uncomfortable, but we have to use everything in our power to help this person.”
The case management process can begin in a hospital, including an intensive care unit, move on to in-patient then finally home and community. Managers will work with payment structures and other stakeholders to negotiate rates and treatment plans that work for everyone.
“Since it’s difficult to determine how long a patient will need acute care, case managers do everything they can to be sensitive and effective,” she adds.
Case managers help brain injury patients by analyzing and identifying their needs and matching them with community resources.
Jeremy developed coping strategies to help him succeed and with proper treatment, gradually improved his quality of life. His memory improved and he was able to manage his finances again. “I want to work even harder to get back to where I was or even better. I found a new self that makes sense. I found a beginning.