More than a million people are treated for mild traumatic brain injuries in U.S. hospitals and emergency rooms each year. Yet few receive appropriate psychological and social follow-up care that can make the difference in whether or not they fully recover.
A University of Washington researcher has found that a 20-minute conversation with a social worker has the potential to significantly reduce the functional decline of those diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury.
The research is published in the April issue of Brain Injury.
Megan Moore in the UW's School of Social Work is training social workers in emergency departments to provide education and resources to patients with mild traumatic brain injuries to help them deal with symptoms and the recovery process.
"Social workers are masters-level trained clinicians who are already embedded in emergency room treatment teams," Moore said. "The goal of my work is to provide them with specialized training on mild traumatic brain injuries to help bridge the psychological and social aspects of treatment with medical care."
Traumatic brain injury occurs when the head is hit by an outside force, causing the brain to move rapidly within the skull, altering consciousness and damaging the nervous system. Anyone who experiences a fall, car or bike accident, sports head injury or an assault, may experience a traumatic brain injury, but most are considered mild.
While a serious traumatic brain injury is usually obvious, mild brain injuries are often harder to detect, and can cause unexplained physical, cognitive, behavioral or emotional symptoms. Typical symptoms nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, fatigue and sleep disturbances are common in many other diagnoses, or resolve quickly, and patients don't always seek medical care.
If a patient does go to the emergency room to be evaluated, he or she may go home thinking they're physi
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University of Washington