Central and Southern Virginia, North Carolina
Ajit Pai, M.D.
DVBIC Site Director
“The VA has highly valued DVBIC as our primary collaboration with the DoD to facilitate numerous advances in the care, research and education for our veterans with traumatic brain injury.”—BG Michael J. Kussman, M.D. (U.S. Army, Ret)
Under Secretary for Health
Veterans Health Administration
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
(Upon his retirement from federal service)
The Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center is a 427-bed facility offering primary, secondary and tertiary health care in medicine, surgery, neurology, rehabilitation medicine, skilled nursing home care and palliative care. Richmond is a national referral center for heart, lung and liver transplantations, and a tertiary care referral center for traumatic brain injury (TBI), open-heart surgery, oncology and vascular diseases. As a teaching hospital, McGuire VA Medical Center enjoys a strong and mutually beneficial affiliation with the Medical College of Virginia and has residency programs in virtually all general and specialty areas of medicine, rehabilitation, surgery, psychiatry and dentistry.
Established in 1993, the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program at the McGuire VA Medical Center builds on the many years of experience of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service in providing quality care for persons with disabilities. The clinical goal of the program is to maximize the functional recovery of active duty personnel and veterans who sustained a brain injury. Indeed, the functional gains made by patients who participated in our program are consistently at the level of or exceed national benchmarks for brain injury rehabilitation programs. Since November 2000, the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program at the McGuire VA Medical Center has achieved a three-year accreditation status from the Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program has a capacity of 10 inpatient beds. Admissions to the inpatient program are usually one of two types: 1) admissions for acute inpatient interdisciplinary rehabilitation, or 2) admissions for post-acute interdisciplinary evaluations. Rehabilitation services are provided by a dedicated team of specialists which includes a physiatrist, resident physiatrist, rehabilitation nurses, case manager, neuropsychologist, physical, occupational, kinesio- and recreation therapists, speech language pathologist, vocational rehabilitation counselor and social worker. The program offers comprehensive interdisciplinary assessment and treatment, medical management, case management, orthotics, as well as education and training for brain injury survivors and their families.
The research focus of the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program at the McGuire VA Medical Center is to pursue advancements in care and outcomes for individuals with brain injury. The program is an active participant in several collaborative research projects sponsored by DVBIC and has close ties with the TBI Model Systems site at the Medical College of Virginia.
DVBIC has divided the United States into catchment areas with an assigned regional education coordinator and TBI recovery support specialist assigned to each. The regional education coordinator and the TBI recovery support specialist at the McGuire VA Medical Center are assigned the region of Virginia (excluding Northern Virginia) and North Carolina.
TBI Recovery Support Specialist
The TBI recovery support specialist serves as a single point of contact for the service member and their family regardless of their status in the Department of Defense (DoD), VA and civilian health care network, and acts as a consultant to the patient, family, case manager and provider regarding TBI care and resources. Additional responsibilities include:
- Monitoring the care continuum for TBI to include potential rehabilitation needs, education, advocacy and support for service members with TBI and their families from injury to return to duty and/or reentry into the community
- Assisting in management of a national active duty and veteran TBI database
- Providing follow up for all DVBIC TBI patients who reside within their region and coordinating care with the local case manager within the DoD and VA system
- Screening regional inquiries and providing assessment and referral services to regionally located TBI beneficiaries
- Identifying barriers and or gaps in service delivery for TBI service members as they transition between systems and settings
- Developing and maintaining an up to date comprehensive regional resource bank of TBI services and programs which are available to the active duty and veteran population within their catchment area
- Identifying and connecting service members to available TBI resources within DoD, VA and civilian communities
- Providing education and support serving as a TBI resource to all involved in the care and support of the service member and family
- Conducting trainings and presentations related to TBI and care coordination
- Participating in professional activities, including providing training and attending professional conferences on behalf of DVBIC
Regional Education Coordinator
The regional education coordinator serves as the TBI education resource for service members, their families, spouses, staff, and the military and civilian communities. Primary responsibility is to coordinate, facilitate and/or provide TBI education for providers, clinicians and all members of the health care team who are involved in the care of service members and veterans with TBI throughout the Virginia and North Carolina area. Additional responsibilities include:
- Conducting outreach activities within region to develop opportunities to provide TBI education and information about DVBIC programs/services
- Providing consultation to military and veterans sites related to TBI educational issues
- Fostering positive, working relationships with outside organizations, service providers and VA staff
- Attending community events and conferences to build awareness about DVBIC