Regaining as much independence as possible after a brain injury requires the work of a variety of professionals. Our program incorporates a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to brain injury treatment in which the patients and their loved ones are the most important team members. Their input and feedback is consistently sought by the treatment team to ensure every team member is striving towards the same goal.
In our facility, we strive to make teamwork a priority in order to provide the holistic treatment that is so important to patients' recoveries. For a team to work well together, each team member must be open to feedback and recognize they can learn from others. It is important to capitalize on the strengths of each team member. Our team has found having therapists of differing disciplines sharing an office allows for easier communication regarding patients' treatments, as well as promoting camaraderie and a sense of unity. It provides a natural opportunity to learn from each other and incorporate that knowledge into treatment sessions.
There are several domains in patients' lives that need to be addressed for them to be productive members of society and enjoy life. Addressing all areas requires input from multiple team members. One team member working independently may only address discipline-specific skills. When a team works interdependently, each member not only provides specialized skills, but can incorporate information from other members into their treatment. Patients, particularly those who have sustained a brain injury, have difficulty generalizing activities learned in treatment to other areas. Addressing the whole person in all treatment sessions helps patients perform activities as they will in the "real world" and improves carry-over.
There are several ways we promote interdisciplinary treatment. All team members attend staffings and family conferences, which include the patient and the patient's loved ones. This ensures all team members continue to focus on the same goals. On community outings, different disciplines attend to address a variety of skills. During an outing to a store, the physical therapist may work with patients on riding an escalator or climbing stairs while the speech language pathologist can work with patients on giving a food order or asking for assistance. The occupational therapist might address money management by having the patients make purchases within a budget or address self-care skills when a patient tries on clothing. The vocational therapist may have patients request job applications. During treatment sessions, the occupational therapist may encourage the carry-over of speech skills by having a patient read labels as they stack cans in a cabinet, while a physical therapist may have the patient hang clothing while standing to address dynamic standing balance. The vocational therapist will use information gained from other disciplines to help identify occupations in which the patient will be successful.
This teamwork leads to more relevant treatment for patients allowing for more investment into treatment. A team working in harmony provides more efficient and effective outcomes than the work of an individual alone. Everyone benefits, most importantly, the patient.
Submitted by Elizabeth Raymond, OTR/L
Lynnea Britton, M.S. CCC-SLP
Tara Melton, PT
Vanessa Prazeres Lillard, MOT OTR/L
Vijayalakshmi Linman, OTR
Elizabeth Raymond, OTR/L, CBIS
Leah Bell, OTR/L
Penny Pickett, MS, CCC-SLP
Emily Harstad, OTR/L, CBIS
Tina Pryor, LOT
Erin Hagag, MS, CCC/SLP
Patty Haddock, PTA, CBIS, ATRIC
Jennifer Welch, OTR/L
Veronica Hernandez, PT, DPT
Vanessa Macedo, OTR
Ann Marconi, SLP
Christie Schoel, PT