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Polytrauma System of Care: What if I Suffered a TBI?

Polytrauma System/Traumatic Brain Injury

The Veterans Administration offers what they call a Traumatic Brain Injury/Polytrauma System of Care program for those servicemen who have suffered injury to a physical region or organ system which could be life threatening or caused physical cognitive, psychological or psychosocial impairments and functional disabilities.

What is the Polytrauma System/Traumatic Brain Injury Service?

The Veterans Administration Polytrauma System provides high quality comprehensive care to you if you suffer from life threatening organ system injuries or traumatic brain injury.  They will provide a rehabilitation plan to help you with as much recovery as possible.  This plan will include physicians from all relevant fields.

What Are the Admission Requirements into this System?

If you are a veteran that has been found to be eligible for benefits and medically stable, you are eligible for admission in the Polytrauma System of Care.  The following criteria must be met:

1.  Sustained multiple physical, cognitive and/or emotional injuries secondary to trauma

2. Not require one-to-one staffing for medical or behavioral problems

3. Not on a ventilator in order to breath

4. Have reason to believe you will benefit from rehabilitation, or

5. Have a need for an initial comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation and care plan

If you think you have Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) contact your local Veterans Administration and ask for the Polytrauma/TBI representative.  TBI care in the VA is available throughout the Polytrauma System of Care.

What can I Expect from the Polytrauma System?

If you Require Acute Long-Term Care:

As a veteran you may be eligible for long term care and rehabilitation if needed.  You most likely with enter one of the 5 Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (PRC).  After the initial assessment the member of the interdisciplinary medical team will get together and discuss your case and suggest a plan for you.  This plan will also include an estimated length of stay.  The medical team will meet with you and your caregivers to explain their findings and their recommendations.  The team will meet once a week to evaluate your progress and adjust your plan if needed.

If you are considered a Mild to Moderate Case:

The nest step in your care is often provided by the Polytrauma Network Site (PNS).  This offers continued medical care and rehabilitation for you that are transitioning closer to home following discharge from the PRC.  The PNS program may also be your entry point if you suffer from mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI).  These services may be provided either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

What Suggestions Do You Have for Me Regarding My Care and Rehabilitation?

The most important advice you can take under consideration is the importance of asking questions.  This should be done not only by yourself but your caregiver(s) also.  While gathering information you should start a journal to record all of your questions and answers.

Structure is very important for TBI patients.  Establishing routines is also important as this will help in the relearning process and developing new strategies.  Caregivers should get involved as much as possible with nursing routines and the different therapies you will be receiving.  You and your caregiver(s) will receive help from the medical team throughout this process.

What Kind of Benefits and Services will be Provided for Me?

You will be provided with a case manager that will work with you and your family to help you understand the benefit information from the Department of Defense.  They will be able to help you with:

  1. Transition from a military hospital to a VA medical center
  2. Will help with communications between the VA, DOD and community services
  3. Identify various VA, DoD and community services
  4. Apply for appropriate VA benefits
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