Hackensack, NJ, March 27, 2012 – March is National Traumatic Brain Injury Month and Accredited Health Services (AHS) is working to raise awareness of what TBI is, how to avoid it and how to treat it.  Seniors are the most ‘at-risk’ population for TBI; Americans aged 75 and older account for the highest percentage of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths each year.  This makes it critical for older Americans, and those who care for them, to take steps to prevent traumatic brain injury from happening in the first place.

For the majority of Americans, exercise is one of the most important steps one can take to prevent TBI because it promotes strength, agility, coordination and balance.  Making the home safer by removing tripping hazards, improving lighting and making the activities of daily life easier to navigate are key safeguards.  Checking medications is also important to do regularly in order to ensure that dosages are appropriate and there are no contraindications that might cause dizziness or drowsiness that could lead to a fall.  Finally, vision checks are essential to make sure eyeglass prescriptions are correct and there are no sight-limiting conditions like glaucoma or cataracts.    

In the event of a fall, making sure caregivers and family members recognize the symptoms of brain injury associated with TBI and know how to respond can literally be a life-saver.*  The most common symptoms are headaches, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, memory problems, slow speech, confusion, fatigue and weakness, dilated pupils, moodiness, and loss of balance.  Recognizing these symptoms and getting immediate medical attention can minimize the damage of TBI, and improve the outcome of rehabilitation efforts.

The care given when the patient goes home from the hospital or rehabilitation facility is crucial to achieving the best possible recovery.  Whether the caregiver is a family member or trained homecare aide, it is vital that they are well-trained in working with TBI patients.  AHS’ certified home health aides (CHHAs) and nurses are specially trained to help TBI patients continue the plan of care received in the rehab hospital to promote more complete healing at home.  AHS has earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Home Care (CAHC) and the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP).  This distinction demands a higher level of training in caring for patients who have had a TBI, as well as those who have had a stroke or are suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. 

AHS goes beyond the training demanded for accreditation and continues to instruct aides throughout their tenure with the agency to work with patients, and their families, to effectively deal with the functional impairments caused by TBI.  The effects of these brain injuries frequently cause frustration, anger, sadness, and/or despair for all involved.  Accredited Health Services’ CHHAs who deal with patients who have suffered a TBI receive extensive education on specific difficult-symptom management.  The training for the “A-Team” of CHHAs includes role playing, response training and team care that involves supervision from field nurses.  The result of this highly-trained at-home care is improved healing and rehabilitation for the patient, and greater resources to help families of patients who’ve suffered TBI.

“Providing the highest level of training for our caregivers sets us apart in homecare,” said Melissa Eschert, president of AHS.  “That training not only builds on the momentum achieved for patients coming out of rehabilitation hospitals, but is also a part of the education we offer to family members to enable them to cope with the after-effects of brain trauma suffered by a loved one.  It’s proven to be a formula that works particularly well with TBI patients, and their families.”