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New Study will Help Casa Colina's Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

Brain Injury Rehabilitation in Southern California

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and disability in young people. Recovery from a TBI is a very long and complex process and often individuals with a TBI will experience lifelong disabilities due to cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and social deficits. Unfortunately, for a large number of TBI patients, medical care does not extend past hospital discharge, resulting in poor community re-integration and other negative outcomes including falls, re-hospitalizations, unemployment, and psychosocial issues.

Casa Colina has a long history of extending clinical care from the acute rehabilitation hospital to the post-acute care setting and finally to the outpatient and home environments with the goal of allowing individuals with TBI to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Since Casa Colina is always focused on ways to expand and strengthen its continuum of care, it recently started a research study to investigate the idea of "patient navigation" in post-acute rehabilitation for TBI. This is a model adopted from the cancer field and matched to fit the needs of patients with long-term disabilities.

What is the purpose of this study?

Individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience a number of impairments and disabilities, which often results in the continued need for support. Unfortunately for a large number of TBI patients, support does not extend past hospital discharge, often resulting in poor community integration and other negative outcomes including falls, re-hospitalizations, unemployment, and psychosocial issues.

In an effort to improve patient outcomes following discharge, we have recently started a new clinical research project to investigate a role for "patient navigation" in post-acute rehabilitation for TBI. Patient navigation is a model of care adopted from the cancer field, where patients are given a navigator - a professional to assist with coordination of care among providers, facilitating communication among the family and healthcare providers, psychosocial support to the patient and families, patient and family education, linking families with community resources, and for financial issues such as insurance.

The goal of this new program is to create a system that will allow patients to seamlessly transition from post-acute medical and rehabilitation services back to the community. In addition, Casa Colina's clinicians hope to gain a better understanding of the cognitive, physical, psychosocial, and physiological needs of people with TBI over the course of their recovery beyond discharge. This study is currently funded for two years by the generous support of the Casa Colina Foundation.

What is involved with participation in the study?

Subjects involved in this study will be assigned a navigator, who is a licensed social worker, for the duration of the two-year study. The navigator will be supported by a team that includes a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, a neuropsychologist, an occupational therapist, and a financial expert. The overall role of the navigation team will be to identify and address issues that prevent successful community re-entry. Subjects who enroll will need to commit to testing on Casa Colina's campus 6 times during the study. Testing will last 4 hours during which the subject will be seen by a physician, neuropsychologist, occupational therapist, and researcher. Participation in this study is at no cost to the subject.

Who is eligible to participate?

Men and women with a diagnosis of TBI who:

  • Have experienced a TBI within the last nine months
  • Are less than 70 years of age
  • Have earned a Rancho score above IV
  • Live within 60 miles of Casa Colina's Pomona campus

To learn more, please call Emily Rosario, Ph.D., Director of the Casa Colina Research Institute at 909/596-7733, ext. 3036 or email erosario@casacolina.org.