UPMC Video Rounds – Brain Injury Rehabilitation

October 22, 2019

Kevin Franzese, MD, assistant professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: 

Brain injury patients are some of the most complicated, medically and behaviorally, because oftentimes to get a brain injury you were in a accident, or you had a heart attack, or some very complicated thing happened and they had many other medical problems. And when you layer on top of complicated medical problems, behavioral, neurological, psychiatric problems, that makes for a very intimidating patient to take care of for the rest of the team.

At UPMC Mercy, we have a disorder of consciousness rehabilitation program, where we'll take severely brain injured patients who have not yet emerged from their disorder of consciousness, and focus on expertly evaluating their level of arousal, and then working medically and from a rehabilitation's perspective to try to bring them out as safely and as quickly as possible.

We're fortunate to live in a time where we've gotten very good at taking care of people who have heart attacks, and many more patients are surviving. And so, as people survive and get better, it's coming to the attention of the field that many people, their brains are affected by their heart attack because oxygen is not going to their brain while their heart is sick.

In this day in age, patients are surviving injuries and medical problems that even as recently as five years ago, they really would not have had any chance. And as a result, we can take care of people with much more severe injuries. Specifically with disorders of consciousness, you know, now patients who would otherwise have been given a horrible prognosis, have been totally unlikely to recover, you know, we can admit to specialized DOC programs or have specialized surgeries like deep brain stimulators to give them the best possible chance to come out of their disorder of consciousness.

Learn more about the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UPMC.