Brain Injury Program
Brain Injury Program
St. Luke’s is dedicated to helping every patient return to their community healthy, strong and with a renewed spark for life. As the only Level I Trauma rehabilitation hospital in the Inland Northwest, we’ve been helping brain injury patients regain their fullest lives for more than two decades.
No two brain traumas are alike, which is why our interdisciplinary team works closely with every patient to help them achieve their best outcomes. St. Luke’s therapy program increases patient quality of life and prepares them to return to their lives as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Our outcomes speak to our excellence and to the perseverance of our amazing patients: We regularly discharge more patients to their homes than the national average for rehab facilities.
Although the causes of brain injuries may vary, our quality of care is constant. Our hallmarks include:
- Patient-centered model of care
- Deep respect for the wants and desires of our patients
- Recognition of our patients’ individuality
- Tailored treatment to achieve unique goals
- A safe and secure care setting
- Low-stimulation environment to aid in healing
- Access to ongoing support groups for brain injury survivors
The most common conditions St. Luke’s treats for patients with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Brain tumors
- Brain hemorrhage
- Sports injuries
- Gunshot wounds
- Brain cell death due to low oxygen of the brain
A brain injury is an unexpected event, and can affect many aspects of functioning. Our skilled therapists are trained to meet you where you are, evaluate strengths and challenges and jump start the comprehensive recovery process.
Features of our brain injury care include:
- Patient-centered model of care
- Therapy five to seven days per week
- Secure and telemonitored unit to keep patients safe as needed
- Contracts with specialty services such as labs, imaging and more
- Collaboration with regional and community centers for services
- Support group for brain injury survivors and their families
- Recurring weekly education about brain injury that is open to patients and families
A brain injury affects your nervous system, including everything from increased activation (such as agitation) to distractibility and fatigue. Your physiatrist will monitor your underlying medical conditions to ensure that you are healthy and thriving, and use their specialized knowledge about brain injury to make sure that everything we are doing is serving your health and recovery. Physiatry will also coordinate with your medical providers as needed to ensure that you are well cared for while you are here, and you have the ongoing appointments that you need when you leave.
Rehab nurses are here 24/7, attending to your medical and personal needs and coordinating with the team. Many have specialty rehab-specific certifications, as well as training in wound care and diabetes.
Case managers are nurses who oversee your total stay. They will follow your progress and coordinate your discharge plan and your discharge needs, including referrals to community resources when needed. They also understand your insurance benefits and seek authorization when needed.
After an illness or injury, it is important that your dietary needs are evaluated to ensure proper healing. Dieticians will make recommendations to meet your individual nutritional needs and provide education and training when necessary.
A brain injury can influence your movement, making navigating your home and community more difficult, and affect your attention or memory, which can complicate safe movement. Our physical therapists work with you and your family to evaluate your movement, build strength and balance, and help you regain your independence in movement. They will help you relearn or find new ways to do things, including:
- Get in and out of bed
- Get on and off a chair
- Walk or use a wheelchair, if needed
- Go up and down stairs
- Get in and out of a car
- Get up, if you fall
- Manage distractions
- Provide you and your family with education and training to build confidence
A brain injury often makes it harder to complete daily activities, such as dressing, getting on or off the toilet, getting in or out of the shower, cooking a meal, managing medications and driving. Our occupational therapists will work with you to regain independence through use of individualized and functional tasks in order to reengage in the activities you need to do and those that are most important to you. This includes:
- Relearning how to safely complete everyday activities (such as getting dressed or cooking a meal) as independently as possible
- Identifying compensatory strategies to support your return to work, driving, school and other meaningful activities
- Assessing your safety for managing your medications, cooking and driving and making recommendations for return to these activities
- Providing you and your family with brain injury education and training to build confidence and increase safety before you return home
- Helping you participate in leisure activities you enjoy
- Successful transition back home and into the community
- Anticipating challenges and identifying resources and work arounds before you even leave the hospital
A brain injury can impact your speech, swallow and thinking skills (memory, attention and ability to organize and plan information). Your speech and language pathologist will work with you to:
- Assess all aspects of your cognition, and identify both strengths and difficulties
- Provide activities that are a “just right challenge,” so that you can use your strengths and improve areas of difficulty
- Assess your swallow and guide progress towards safely eating and drinking
- Educate you and your family, and provide strategies to help you be safe and successful after you leave the hospital
A brain injury often leads to changes in movement and cognition. Many people experience changes in behavior and emotional adjustment throughout the process. Your peuropsychologist will work with you and your care team to:
- Assess how you are doing, including emotions, behavior and aspect of cognition
- Provide you and your family with education about brain injury recovery and strategies to make the process as smooth as possible
- Provide counseling and therapy skills as needed to support you and your family emotionally
- Provide a neuropsychological assessment prior to returning to work or school
St. Luke's wants to help patients throughout their stay and after. Join us in a support group focused on injury adjustment, connection to community resources and meeting other survivors of brain injury. To learn more, call 509-473-6681.
St. Luke’s also offers a support group for patients who have suffered a brain injury through the Washington Brain Injury Association Spokane Chapter. For more information about our support groups and to sign up, visit our Support Services page.
Your first few days at St. Luke’s will focus on evaluations by all your caregivers. This will help you and your team to identify areas of strength and challenge, and be an opportunity to define what your goals are for your care.
Most patients have three hours of therapy per day, at least five days per week, though this can change a little from person to person. Therapists work with you where you are to move towards your goals. If you are ever feeling sick or tired, let your therapist know so that they can modify the session goals to allow you to participate at whatever level you can tolerate.
We encourage friends and family to attend and participate in therapy sessions, and also try to also make videos or provide handouts so that family can see the progress you’re making and the support you need.
A significant amount of recovery is done within the first six months to a year after a brain injury. There are common symptoms associated with where in the brain the injury occurs, but everyone is affected a little different. As such, it is most important to be aware of how the brain injury has uniquely affected you, and only ever compare you to yourself over the course of recovery (no two recoveries are alike).
Recovery after a brain injury is best when you are being challenged to complete tasks that you can successfully complete. When activities are too easy or too hard, we don’t get the same benefit.
Our therapists specialize in determining what the “just-right” challenge is for you – where you are challenged, but you can succeed at the activity. This promotes the building of new connections in the brain, and also builds your confidence. We work with your and your family to find challenges that are meaningful for you, and make sure to take how you are feeling into account every day.
Your rehabilitation team will meet weekly to discuss discharge planning. These discussions will include:
- Determining your estimated discharge date
- Thinking about where you will go after discharge and making this as safe as possible
- Anticipating your need for help from family and/or caregivers
- Recommendations for follow-up therapies and medical care
- Recommendations for community services (meal delivery, caregiver services, transportation)
- Team collaboration to solve any barriers to you returning home safely
When it’s your time to leave St. Luke’s, we will determine what therapies you would still benefit from and arrange continued services. These follow up services may include:
- Outpatient therapies
- Home health therapies
- Home health nursing
- Bath aide
Your rehab doctor will determine what follow up medical appointments are required and St. Luke’s will schedule them for after discharge.
St. Luke’s inpatient and outpatient programs are fully accredited by the Joint Commission and CARF International, beacons in the medical community that hold healthcare facilities to the highest level of consistency and compliance.