When patients suffer serious brain injuries, their treatment can range from physical and speech therapy to psychiatric care.
But despite an array of options and many advances, research still hasn't done much to help pin down which treatments work best in each case. Now Rush University Medical Center is working to change that.
Rush and nine other North American health care facilities have received a $4.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to identify which rehabilitation therapies can best help patients with traumatic brain injuries. Rush is the only center in Illinois taking part in the study.
"Our aim in this study is to isolate individual components of the range of therapies we use to treat our patients and determine how, and to what degree, each is associated with improved function," says James Young, MD, chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rush.
Traumatic brain injury happens when the head violently hits an object — as in a fall or a car crash — or when something like a bullet pierces the skull and enters the brain. Symptoms, which vary depending on the severity and location of the damage, can include headaches, lethargy, convulsions, loss of coordination, confusion and behavior or mood changes.
The study will compile records of more than 2,300 patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries. Investigators will keep daily logs of the individually tailored treatment programs each patient undergoes — including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, psychology and social supports.
The patients will be followed for a year after they're discharged to look at their quality of life, including whether they could live independently, drive a vehicle and participate in regular activities.
Researchers at Rush and the other institutions will then analyze the information to figure out which therapy options were most beneficial for patients with different types of injuries.
"This is medicine at its best: treatment based on the results of years of clinical practice," Young says.
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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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