Latest Allegheny Health Network News
Oct 11, 2021
Courtesy of Allegheny Health Network Dr. Thomas Franz, lead physiatrist for the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation program, based at Allegheny Valley Hospital. Brain injury is a complex condition that is unique to each patient and requires a multi-pronged approach to recovery that includes the participation of the patient’s support system. “I always remind my colleagues that if you’ve seen one brain injury, you’ve seen one brain injury,” says Thomas Franz, MD, lead physiatrist for the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation program, based at Allegheny Valley Hospital. Dr. Franz has treated traumatic brain injury patients for more than 30 years and explains the complexities, life impacts and rehab options. What are the most common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury? The issues experienced by brain injury patients run the gamut from mild to debilitating and may include dizziness and balance problems, migraine and headaches, blurred or reduced vision, cognition and memory loss and negative behaviors. How is brain injury severity determined? The biggest contributing factor to TBIs is the way the brain gets injured. The higher the energy and impact, the higher likelihood of severe injury. Additionally, how force gets applied plays a significant role. For example, if someone is struck at a certain angle and the brain gets twisted in a different way than someone who has a straight on impact, the damage is going to be different. Also, the amount of protection effects brain injury. If the person was in a vehicle with airbags and lots of metal designed to absorb the shock, they’re better protected than someone struck by a vehicle on foot or riding a motorcycle. The patient’s physical fitness, age, and other variables also contribute to determining the severity of the injury and how well one can ultimately recover. Is it common for brain injuries to be dismissed or misdiagnosed? We do see a lot of patients with concussions or brain injuries, where they were not admitted to the hospital early on. Depending on what studies you look at, 85%-90% of patients with a single concussion will often recover after a period of a few days or weeks with limited intervention. For the patients that experience continued migraines, balance disorders or cognitive problems, medical providers don’t always connect their symptoms with a previous concussion. If you suspect you may have a TBI, please reach out to the Brain Injury Resource Line (1-800-444-6443) or call AHN at 412-359-6939. What is unique about AHN’s traumatic brain injury rehabilitation program at Allegheny Valley Hospital? Allegheny Valley Hospital is home to AHN’s TBI rehabilitation program, a 17-bed unit. The dedicated staff of hospitalists, rehabilitation physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, dietitians, registered nurses, and aides that provide one-on-one therapies to help patients receive the best possible outcome after a TBI. The comprehensive team cares for brain injuries from the time a person enters the emergency department until they’re discharged from rehabilitation, and it’s that team of specialists and the seamless continuity of care that set it apart. Support Local Journalism and help us continue covering the stories that matter to you and your community.