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Brain Injury Rehabilitation

A brain injury can affect just about everything — including the way a person walks, talks, and thinks. For service members and veterans who have been in combat, these symptoms can be compounded by other physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. That's why there are a number of treatments available that attempt to restore the parts of life that have been affected by a brain injury and other physical and psychological injuries.

Service members and veterans often receive care at a Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. These centers provide therapies that address physical, cognitive, and emotional and behavioral impairments.

The actual length of the rehabilitation process varies according to the person and to the severity of their injury. Some people may only require a few weeks or months of rehabilitation, and others may require years or even lifelong rehabilitation. Treatments range from critical hospital care to speech and language therapy.

Families are encouraged to participate in the recovery process; their presence and support invariably help the injured loved one. With the help of specialized rehabilitation, anyone with a brain injury can continue to make improvements in his or her life.

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September 22, 2016
"I was helping to train this dog to go on and be a service dog for another service member so it became a 'No Fail' mission for me."
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June 13, 2016
At CNRM research is being done to deepen the understanding of brain injury and neurotrauma that occur in theater, including the concurrent development of PTSD with TBI. Learn why this research is so important and how you can help.
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June 13, 2016
How CNRM is testing and researching the latest technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to TBI and PTSD.
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October 29, 2014
What do you plan to do with your life? Now ask yourself, what do you plan to do with your life after a traumatic injury?
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July 14, 2014
How can metronome-like beats help people with TBI with cognitive issues like memory, processing speed, sensory integration, and attention?
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“Close your eyes and think about the vacation you took on a warm, sunny beach. Now, tell me every detail of what you see, hear, smell and feel.” This is how exposure therapy may start for vets with TBI and/or PTSD.
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July 1, 2014
With the support of his wife, Jerry Cortinas who is living with TBI and PTSD, tries adaptive skiing for the first time.
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July 1, 2014
In Chapter 3 of this documentary episode, Jerry Cortinas, who has TBI and a missing hand, successfully tackles the mountain on a snowboard.
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May 1, 2014
DVBIC's TBI Recovery Support Program ensures that service members and their family is supported and connected to appropriate resources as they progress through the entire continuum of care to recovery.
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January 15, 2014
Army Staff Sergeant Russell Smith uses art to help himself and other veterans with TBI and PTSD.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | December 4, 2013
Occupational therapist Kristen Maisano talks about therapy dogs, which are used in the clinic, and how they can help service members with mild TBI and PTDS in ways that humans cannot.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | December 4, 2013
"Sometimes service members and veterans feel stuck. Rehab for TBI is not easy," says occupational therapist Kristen Maisano. "My job is to help them find what motivates them to dig deep and to set and attain incremental goals."
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | December 4, 2013
Occupational therapist Kristen Maisano talks about how spounes can help further a loved one's TBI-related thearpy because not only are they aware of changes in the person, but they can also bring strategies from the clinic to the home.
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Heechin Chae, MD | December 4, 2013
Helping a patient with TBI learn how to grocery shop in an actual store can be as important in TBI treatment as prescribing a medication.
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Heechin Chae, MD | December 4, 2013
Setting goals for TBI treatment is crucial, but Dr. Heechin Chae emphasizes that clairty in those goals and the steps necessary to achieve them are essential for success.
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Heechin Chae, MD | September 10, 2013
Dr. Heechin Chae explains how acupuncture, as fascinating and mysterious as the brain, can affect neurochemical function.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | September 3, 2013
Occupational therapist Kristen Maisano talks about how and when service members with mild TBI and/or PTSD can acquire a psychological service dog.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | August 12, 2013
Occupational therapist Kristen Maisano explains what activities of daily living are — from brushing teeth and getting dressed to grocery shopping and fulfilling obligations at work.
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August 1, 2013
Patients are an integral part of the interdisciplinary polytrauma team at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. The team works collaboratively with veterans to help them meet their personal goals and reintegrate back into the community, academics, and the workforce. "I've got a long way to go," says Vincent Short, Specialist (RET), U.S. Army, "but I feel very empowered."
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June 17, 2013
From doing puzzles and building Lego models to finding items in the grocery store or mapping a route on the subway, Adam shares his experiences in occupational therapy and how it really helped him during his recovery from TBI.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | June 14, 2013
Occupational therapist Kristen Maisano, OTD talks about meeting patients were they are right now and creating step-by-step goals that take on challenges but in a methodical and careful way to effectively retrain the brain.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | June 14, 2013
"Listening to where the person is right now is crucial," says Kristen Maisano, OTD. "From there, I will tell the person that things don't have to be hard forever, we are in this together, and I will help them get where they want to go."
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May 20, 2013
Adam talks about why it's important to keep an open line of communication with PTs, OTs, and other healthcare providers during TBI recovery. "You are the only one who knows exactly where you are. Tell them and they can care for you better."
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | May 17, 2013
Kristen Maisano, OTD talks about how service dogs can help service members and veterans in many ways — from feeling safe when sleeping to gaining confidence in public places.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | May 17, 2013
"Rehabilitation for mild TBI and PTSD needs to be service member-directed," says Kristen Maisano, OTD.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | May 17, 2013
Civilian healthcare providers may need to reach out to specialists in the community to ensure that their patients are getting all of their TBI-related issues addressed.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | May 17, 2013
Transitioning from the military, where a service member may have had to make many life-and-death decisions, to the civilian world can be challenging.
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Kristen Maisano, OTD | May 17, 2013
OT Kristen Maisano talks about helping patients with TBI attain their goals; sometimes there are ways to retrain the brain, other times the use of compensatory strategies is necessary.
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May 6, 2013
"I've been there ... it's hard!" Adam knows that it's difficult to feel motivated to participate in one's own recovery when the progress seems slow; it's hard to jump in the saddle to get on with your life. He offers support and strategies that work.
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April 15, 2013
Adam talks about a friend who runs an art therapy program for vets with TBI and PTSD. "It's a place where you can express yourself in a safe, self-paced environment. A place to be with other vets in a quiet, relaxing setting," explains Adam.
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April 8, 2013
Adaptive sports like kayaking are great therapy for the injured brain ... and injured spirit. Hear from a few veterans who found hope, friendship, and renewed confidence from being out on the water.
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October 5, 2012
Retired Navy Commander Bernadette Semple had always been an intelligent and highly motivated person. She applied those qualities to the rehabilitation of her brain and her back.
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October 5, 2012
Among other key strategies, Retired Navy Commander Bernadette Semple learned that making a detailed schedule each day and sticking to it is crucial for success after brain injury.
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October 5, 2012
It is powerful — and important for recovery — for people with TBI to hear and share their stories and coping mechanisms with each other after brain injury. Retired Navy Commander Bernadette Semple shares her experiences.
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Shane McNamee, MD | September 27, 2012
The VA — along with the DoD — works with veterans and some active duty service members and their families to help them rebuild their lives after TBI and other polytrauma injuries.
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Shane McNamee, MD | September 27, 2012
The VA is dedicated on a national level to making sure veterans in rural areas continue to get care even after they have left the main centers.
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May 7, 2012
Adam learned to implement his "four-finger approach" — something he learned in OT at the VA — so he never forgets his wallet, keys, cellphone, and sunglasses.
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Joel Scholten, MD | December 14, 2011
Helping improve function and mood for patients post-TBI involves getting the whole picture of a person, his symptoms, and how they are affecting his life.
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Joel Scholten, MD | December 14, 2011
Providers know a treatment plan works best when the patient and family are involved with the medical team; the group can set realistic and meaningful rehab goals for quality of life.
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Shane McNamee, MD | November 23, 2011
Above all else, the TBI doctors and therapists at the the US Department of Veterans Affairs listen. They learn what makes each injured person — and his family — tick, so they can help put them back together and return them to a full life.
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October 28, 2011
Watch this Marine's powerful story of recovery — with the help of his therapists at the VA and his own family.
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It’s not just fun and games; learn what vets and service members are doing at Walter Reed’s Brain Fitness Center.
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March 2, 2011
“Our mission is to set the gold standard in rehabilitation of wounded warriors with neurologic injury ...”
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September 1, 2010
Group treatment could help with learning compensatory cognitive strategies.
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Maria Mouratidis, PsyD | March 4, 2009
BrainLine talks with Dr. Maria Mouratidis about the heroes she works with on a daily basis.
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December 1, 2006
A profile of a staff sergeant from the moment he was hit by a roadside bomb to when his real fight begins.
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April 1, 2006
Find out why this sergeant jokes about leaving part of his head in Iraq.

Employment & Training

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May 25, 2017
Why does concussion affect returning to duty and what can service members do to help themselves return to duty faster?
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March 25, 2016
Two injured vets—Marine Cpl. Lalo Panyagua and Army Sgt. Josh Tredinnick—explain how the non-profit Dog Tag Bakery has helped them learn about business and get ready for a new career.
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Heechin Chae, MD | December 4, 2013
Dr. Heechin Chae talks about the best strategies for people with brain injury to return to their jobs, the most important and often difficult one being to return slowly and carefully.
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August 12, 2013
Adam shares his experience of returning to school twice, the second time equipped with strategies and tools to help with his brain injury. "The experiences were night and day," he says.
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July 17, 2013
For reservists, transitioning from active duty into their former job or workplace can come with significant challenges.
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July 17, 2013
For many veterans, a brain injury may change the trajectory of your career path. Adam talks about how and where to seek help when exploring ideas for a new career.
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July 1, 2013
For veterans looking for school or work opportunities, there can be many questions. Adam talks with Viriginia Employment Commission Rep. William Marquez to learn more.
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June 14, 2013
Finding a job is never easy, but here are five suggestions to help you improve your odds and transition into a civilian job.
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April 1, 2013
The more employers know about TBI and PTSD, the more they can help their veteran employees succeed in the workplace.
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April 1, 2013
Don't assume that a person with TBI or PTSD can't do a job due to apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Learn other dos and don'ts
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March 26, 2013
Searching for a job can be frustrating — and exhausting, especially for veterans with TBI. Adam gets some good ideas from Army veteran William Marquez, Virginia Employment Commission.
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March 26, 2013
Although some of the challenges related to returning to work can be hard to change, many people can successfully return to work after a brain injury.
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March 18, 2013
"Veterans make great employees," Army veteran William Marquez, Virginia Employment Commission, explains to Adam. Prospective employers should focus more on the veterans' hard work, discipline, and skill level and less on any disability they may have.
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March 11, 2013
When searching for a civilian job, veterans should consider finding a friend or buddy in a similar situation with whom to share ideas and strategies. Adam talks with Army veteran William Marquez, Virginia Employment Commission, about this topic.
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March 4, 2013
Adam talks to Army veteran William Marquez, Virginia Employment Commission, about the resources available for veterans to help them find equivalent civilian jobs for what they did on active duty.
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February 25, 2013
Adam talks with Army veteran William Marquez, Viriginia Employment Commission, about how to help veterans get the necessary licenses, certifications, and training they need to enter the civilian workforce.
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February 19, 2013
Adam talks with Army veteran William Marquez, Viriginia Employment Commission, about how to get the job qualifications needed to transfer from a military to a civilian career.
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January 2, 2013
The cognitive, communication, behavioral, sensory, physical, psycho-emotional, and social changes commonly experienced following TBI can affect a person's ability to return to work.
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July 2, 2012
An important event at work can take careful planning and energy — before and after the event. Adam shares some tips to help you "break a leg."
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June 25, 2012
Starting with an internship and assessing your skills and abilities post-TBI are two strategies to help you successfully return to the work force. Adam shares his experience.
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May 21, 2012
When it comes to employment, promising practices exist to help transitioning service members with TBI and PTSD. Providing natural workplace supports is one of these practices.
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May 21, 2012
When it comes to employment, promising practices exist to help transitioning service members with TBI and PTSD. One such practice is mentoring.
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May 21, 2012
Employers can play a vital role in helping service members and veterans with TBI transition back to work by recognizing the challenges associated with TBI and making necessary adjustments and/or reasonable accommodations.
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May 18, 2012
Customized employment is one promising practice to help transitioning service members with combat-related TBI and PTSD succeed in the workplace.
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January 1, 2010
Learn how a job coach can help transitioning service members with TBI, PTSD, and other combat-related injuries succeed in the workplace.
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Kelli Gary talks about the compensatory strategies that she found through her own experience worked for her — like recording herself reading her text books to better prepare for class and tests.

Speech & Language Therapy

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December 17, 2012
For some service members and veterans after a brain injury, speaking becomes harder whether it is with word retrieval or the amount of time it takes to formulate and deliver a response or comment. Adam shares his experience with being a sensitive and respectful listener.
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Technology, like the use of smartphones as a memory tool, has helped advance strategies for people with TBI.
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Inbal Eshel, MA, CCC-SLP | July 19, 2012
It used to be believed that the brain could not change or significantly heal after injury. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
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July 9, 2012
A TBI can cause changes in a person’s communication skills.
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Service members and veterans can use Walter Reed's Brain Fitness Center's games and tools to help overall cognitive function.
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SLPs use effective strategies for their patients with TBI based on the model of "goal, plan, predict, do, and review."
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Inbal Eshel, MA, CCC-SLP | June 16, 2012
Helping a patient with cognitive and language difficulties after a TBI does not have to involve bells and whistles.
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Inbal Eshel, MA, CCC-SLP | June 12, 2012
SLPs perform standardized cognitive and language tests as well as an in-depth interview with people with TBI to hear what difficulties they are facing in their day-to-day life.
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The number of service members and veterans using the Brain Fitness Center has jumped exponentially.
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Speech-language pathologists focus exclusively on a patient's cognitive and language complaints after a TBI. The other members of the interdisciplinary team focus on their specialities like headache care, sleep problems, and behavioral issues.
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The Brain Fitness Center at Walter Reed National Mlitary Medical Center is a "brain gym" for service members and veterans.
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Using metacognitive strategies sounds fancy, but it's a simple concept. SLPs give patients one strategy to apply across many situations.
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Care for patients with TBI has always been tailored for the individual, but the strategies speech therapist use and how  patients are taught to apply them have developed with time, research, and clinical practice.
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March 17, 2011
Learn how SLPs are using technological advancements to help in the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.
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January 1, 2006
Learn why air-pressure "blasts" can be so devastating to the brain.
 


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