Mayo Clinic Hopes To Bring TBI Care To Rural Areas
The road back from a traumatic brain injury is long, and frustrating. Recovery can involve physical and cognitive problems that linger for months or years. In some rare instances, they can even linger for life. I know this first hand.
After a “minor” concussion in March of this year, I faced serious issues with memory loss, and general confusion for months, as well as incredible sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises. Around June, nearly all of these symptoms had cleared, but to this day I still deal with increased light sensitivity at night which hampers my ability to drive after the sun has gone down.
I was lucky though, because I received great care from very qualified doctors in Chicago, where I was at the time. For those living in rural areas, traumatic brain injuries can be even more problematic because they lack access to brain rehabilitation specialists.
Because of this, the Mayo Clinic, and collaborators that include the Departments of Health in Minnesota and Iowa, Regional Health in South Dakota and Sanford Health in North Dakota, have received a $2.2 million federal grant so that new ways to provide specialized TBI care in rural or underserved urban population can be tested.
Mayo Clinic physiatrist Allen Brown, M.D., and Director of Brain Rehabilitation Research spoke about the grant, saying, “Our goal is to test a model of care that delivers specialized brain rehabilitation resources to patients and providers in underserved locations. We believe this is the first study of this scope — four states, three health systems and two state departments of health — using electronic technology to improve care with no face-to-face contact.”
He continued, “In the upper Midwest, rural dwellers, the elderly and Native Americans have a high risk for TBI and are more likely to become isolated after acute care because of their impairment, distance from services, and financial concerns. The trial will test whether outcomes over three years are better in the group receiving this model of care compared to a group that receives usual care in their communities.”
Hopefully this new grant will help establish a network of care for those who don’t live in middle or upper-class areas of big cities. Care for dangerous injuries should be available to everyone, and it is clear TBI is the worst kind of dangerous. Brain injuries are often not fatal, but are often debilitating for long periods, where the patient can become isolated and left without any clue how to handle their condition.