A fascinating and informative seminar, “Managing the Challenges of TBI,” was hosted by BINA Stroke and Brain Injury Assistance in conjunction with the world-renowned Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation. The event was a unique opportunity for individuals who have suffered, or whose loved ones have suffered, a traumatic brain injury to learn the latest advances from leaders in the field. Key topics in brain injury were on the program, including diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, as well as important legal issues.
Opening the program, Elchanan Schwarz, LMHC, director of crisis intervention and caregiver support at BINA, noted that it was a great honor to welcome Rusk to Brooklyn for the evening and spoke warmly of the organization’s longstanding relationship with Rusk and its expert medical and therapeutic team. He expressed special gratitude to the keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Flanagan, a member of BINA’s medical advisory board, both for his participation and for his personal interest and involvement with BINA’s families.
The first speaker, Andrew Siegel, Esq., of Siegel and Coonerty LLP, is a personal-injury attorney with expertise in TBI litigation. His informative presentation focused on the important role of a life-care planner in ensuring that a TBI survivor receives all the necessary care for the best possible quality of life. The life-care planner must be qualified to plan out the life and future of the TBI survivor and assess financial needs based on the lifetime cost of the injury.
The audience was then introduced to the keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Flanagan, a nationally and internationally recognized physiatrist (rehabilitation doctor) and expert on TBI and brain injury rehabilitation who is a professor at NYU School of Medicine and chairman of Rehabilitation Medicine and medical director of Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation. Dr. Flanagan is uniquely qualified to educate the public about issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of acquired brain injury.
Dr. Flanagan began his presentation with some staggering statistics on brain injury. Although 1.5 million TBIs are reported annually, the actual number is significantly higher since many injuries go unreported. Furthermore, this number does not include the 3.8 million concussions that occur annually and are classified separately as mild TBIs but should be counted in the overall number as well. As the population ages, the numbers will rise, since the elderly suffer brain injuries in greater numbers. Significant attention is also being paid to military veterans who are suffering a substantial amount of severe TBIs in recent overseas conflicts.
In a detailed and comprehensive overview of the latest advances in the field, Dr. Flanagan first discussed imaging, which allows a view of microscopic aspects of the brain and gives critical information about its health and level of function, and the role and effectiveness of medications in the treatment of and recovery from brain injury.
Dr. Flanagan then spoke about the latest cutting-edge devices, including of the robotic variety, which facilitate the recovery of function such as weight-supported treadmills for walking. However, he pointed out, nothing is more important than a good therapist; the most important equipment in the rehab gym, he said, is “good brains and good hands.” Questions were then taken from the audience on a wide-ranging variety of topics.
Participants were intrigued by the clear yet exhaustive review of the complex subject matter and left with a newfound appreciation for the vast amount of research and resources available to survivors of brain injury and their families.
BINA provides critical services including rehabilitation referrals, crisis intervention, and case management to brain-injury survivors of all ages and their families and can be reached at 718-645-6400.