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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

July 19, 2022, Wilner, Laura J., MD ,
Phoenix Children’s and Brain Injury Alliance partnership brings hope and support for patients and families impacted by brain injuries

As the division chief for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the medical director over the  Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Program at Phoenix Children’s, I enjoy seeing the smiles on patients’ faces when they realize the incredible progress they have made in their inpatient and outpatient therapy following a life-changing circumstance such as a traumatic brain injury.

Phoenix Children’s and Brain Injury Alliance partnership brings hope and support for patients and families impacted by brain injuries

Approximately 70 percent of the patients in our Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Program have been impacted by some type of brain injury or brain impairment. We have pediatric-trained physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, nurses and physical, speech and occupational therapists who help these resilient children gain their highest level of independence.

As we built our rehabilitation program and further enhanced and developed our services at Phoenix Children’s, our team realized the need to improve our connections to community-based services to smooth the continuity of care for patients with brain injury between the hospital, home and the community. When these patients are discharged from the hospital, their current needs might look very different months and years ahead as they continue their journey toward healing and recovery. Providing a channel of support for our patients and their families is an integral and rewarding part of the work we do at Phoenix Children’s.

To help us in these efforts, Phoenix Children’s is partnering with the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, a nonprofit community-based organization founded 40 years ago that provides resources and support for children and families impacted by all forms of brain injury.

“Brain injury can be an invisible disability,” said Brittany Sweeney-Lawson, director of Care Coordination for the Brain Injury Alliance. “A lot of times, people do not recognize that someone has a brain injury because the individual does not outwardly appear to have a problem. Traumatic brain injury is one of the number one causes of death and injury in children. Working in partnership with the pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians and outpatient therapy treatment team at Phoenix Children’s, the Brain Injury Alliance helps fill in the gaps and provide the support that families need as they navigate life after their injury.”

Phoenix Children’s partnership with the Brain Injury Alliance has been preliminarily established through the support of collaborative funding from Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s and the Division of Pediatric Surgery. The goal is to develop an ongoing permanent partnership that connects patients and families to community resources and support services as they move through the continuum of recovery and rehabilitation, and adjust to living with the outcome of a brain injury.

Phoenix Children’s and Brain Injury Alliance partnership brings hope and support for patients and families impacted by brain injuries

“Since we have a large brain impairment patient population at Phoenix Children’s, we are grateful to have this service available to our patients and families right here on campus,” said Elizabeth Linos, director of Rehabilitation Services at Phoenix Children’s. “Parents can reach out to the Brain Injury Alliance for additional supplemental educational information about their child’s brain injury and symptoms. If their child is having behavioral challenges in school or at home, or having difficulty adapting in the community due to their brain impairment, the Alliance can put them in touch with local resources, programs and support groups to help them address these specific concerns.”

Patients and families can visit The Emily Center at Phoenix Children’s Thomas campus on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to meet with a Brain Injury Alliance resource facilitator for a guided resource facilitation session. During this visit, the Brain Injury Alliance staff will listen and evaluate an individual’s circumstances, and connect them to the appropriate resources related to their situation. Patients and their families who are receiving inpatient or outpatient services at Phoenix Children’s, can participate with the facilitator from the Brain Injury Alliance via in-person, drop in or scheduled visits at The Emily Center, or via phone or scheduled Zoom meeting by calling 1-888-500-9165 or emailing resources@biaaz.org.

“There are many paths a patient with a brain injury may take, some easier than others,” said Brittany. “Getting as many people as possible on the path of hope and help, and realizing there is life after brain injury makes a huge difference in their personal journey toward healing and recovery. We are excited about our collaboration with Phoenix Children’s. Together, we can help ensure a better future for children with brain injuries through public awareness, education and prevention.”

Click here to learn more about our partnership with the Brain Injury Alliance, and watch this brief video of Dr. Wilner highlighting our new partnership.

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