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How Is Family Involved in TBI Treatment?

How Is Family Involved in TBI Treatment?


How is family involved in TBI treatment?

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[Dr. Heechin Chae] We actually have what we call intake meeting after we gather this wonderful data and talk about what this really means and setting functional goals. We actually sit down with the patient and family and review that with them. Actually a spouse or significant other or family members have a big input on that. So inevitably goal setting really is shaped by not only patient but what it really means to the family. That's number one. They already get involved. Because of that we need to have—they actually time to time come to sessions that can be meaningful for the family members. We even have some of their children come and just observe how they interact. I mean we have social workers who will just watch how a patient plays with their child or children and just observe for like 15 minutes. That's just—that's a lot. Instead of the person telling us the issues. Those things are very important, and of course we actually talk to the family members and also guide them to right treatment. Some of these people have not sought any help because they're just adjusting to the patient. A lot of times we often say—actually last week I told the spouse of the patient— "You know what? It's time for you to actually heal too. I noticed that you are taking him to all his appointments. Why don't you just have one "me" day? Why don't you just drop him off for treatment? We'll arrange the appointment so that it's almost like going to work. You're coming to work here at 8 o'clock. Then why don't you pick him up at 5?" She thought it was the greatest thing, so she said she took the day off, go to salon and nail places, and just did things that she wanted to do—hang out with her friends. She felt very free and relaxed. That's a reminder to her. You know, actually you need to feel better, you need to feel stronger in order to help your husband. Those type of trainings as well, and at the end of course we don't want to just end the treatment but more empowering the family how to continue to help the person recover and heal. I think that we have again—rehabilitation in general has been around since humanity. I call it like OB. Baby was born before OB/GYN came. So family are the ones who used to help members recover from injuries or things like that. Family—you have to involve family. PT/OTs, they're gone after a certain period of time. We would love to see them a really long time, but eventually we have to let them go, and the family has to take over. So we have to bring them in, and we have to empower them to continue the recovery process. That has worked out really well. So family member—you cannot ignore them. If you ignore them then I think you're not doing the best efficient brain injury rehabilitation.

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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Lara Collins, and Ashley Gilleland, BrainLine.

Heechin Chae, MD Heechin Chae, MD was appointed site director of DVBIC at Fort Belvoir and chief of the Traumatic Brain Injury Department at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in 2011. He will become the director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite at Fort Belvoir in 2013.

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