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New program supports children with brain injuries at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

July 7, 2011

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has helped launch a new program to support children diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) after they leave the hospital.

More than 1.7 million Americans — adults and children — sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, according for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many more go unreported. From 2008-2009, the state TBI Registry documented about 670 Tennesseans, ages 3 to 21, who had TBIs.

The new program, which is implemented at Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Project BRAIN, a program of the Tennessee Disability Coalition and the Tennessee Departments of Health and Education, supports the student’s transition from hospital to home and back to school. With family consent, a Brain Injury Transition Liaison follows up with families, offers a signs and symptoms tool and recommends resources, if needed, to help a child recover.

The liaison also notifies the school, with parental consent, about the child’s injury and to offer education on the signs and symptoms of a TBI. Already, the project has reached out to 41 families since May 23.

“There is a huge variation in what people recognize as a traumatic brain injury,” said Barbara Shultz, R.N., director of emergency services at Children’s Hospital. “We hear, ‘it’s just a concussion.’ It’s not just a concussion. It’s very significant, and the impact of that can really be life altering.”

A traumatic brain injury (mild, moderate or severe) is a disruption of normal brain function that is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. A person may suffer changes in mood, behavior, memory, senses, communication and balance. Though most children recover fully from a mild TBI, the consequences can be long-term and devastating if not addressed.

“Often TBI is misidentified and misdiagnosed,” said Paula Denslow, director of Project BRAIN. “Most times, schools are not informed that an injury happened. It’s often the teachers who help identify what’s going on. But what we hear from parents and schools is they are getting information too late.”

This program seeks to get the information to families and schools immediately.
“This is a way for us to link our expertise together to improve the care for children,” said Shultz. “We need to be more proactive about preventing these injuries and making sure people realize the significance and signs and symptoms of even a moderate traumatic brain injury from the beginning.”

For more information, call Project BRAIN at 383-9442.

Media Inquiries:
Jeremy Rush
Media Relations Manager
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Phone: 615-322-4747
Email: jeremy .rush@vanderbilt.edu
http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/root/vumc.php?site=npa

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