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Social workers can help patients recover from mild traumatic brain injuries
Date:5/6/2014

cally okay, but then continue to have trouble with memory, depression, or completing once-routine tasks. That makes it all the more important that a social worker completes an evaluation while the patient is still in the emergency room, Moore said.

"It's a critical intervention point not only for the patients with mild traumatic brain injuries, but also for patients with other types of medical and psychosocial problems," she said.

Moore joined the UW in the fall of 2012. While conducting her doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, she designed a study that is currently running at San Francisco General Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center. There, medical staff identify patients with mild traumatic brain injuries and refer them to social workers, who provide education, coping strategies, resources and a brief alcohol intervention screening. Social workers later follow up with a phone call to see how the patient is doing.

Moore's initial study showed that an intervention lasting less than 20 minutes significantly reduced brain injury patients' alcohol use and prevented functional decline. (A second, randomized trial is now under way.)

Moore said social workers already conduct evaluations and provide resources for patients in hospitals and emergency rooms, and would need only a small amount of training on recognizing and dealing with mild traumatic brain injuries. They could provide patients with education about symptoms and the recovery process, as well as coping strategies such as getting enough rest and avoiding alcohol and drugs (which increase the risk of re-injury). Social workers also link patients to support groups, counselors, substance abuse services and appropriate medical care.

Moore is especially concerned with thousands of soldiers returning from the battlefield with such brain injuries. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center estimated that more than 220,000 U.S. service members we
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Contact: Megan Moore
mm99@uw.edu
206-616-2862
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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