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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU expands traumatic brain injury program

Girl playing soccer

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is developing a new center to enhance and expand clinical services and research in traumatic brain injury (TBI), thanks to $2,904,593 in community support through the Children’s Hospital Foundation

Brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death for children in the United States. Large gaps exist in understanding the impact of brain injury on the neurodevelopmental periods of childhood, hindering the development of new therapies to improve outcomes.

Work has already begun on the new TBI center, which will provide comprehensive care for a variety of needs — from patients requiring extensive stays in the pediatric intensive care unit to young athletes in need of outpatient concussion care.

“Our efforts are multi-pronged, beginning with helping patients and families access the best evidence-based treatment and most appropriate levels of care as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Katherine Dec, who, along with Drs. Nikki Miller Ferguson, M.D. and Alia Iqbal O’Meara, M.D., is leading CHoR’s new TBI center. “More globally, my physician colleagues and I are focused on continued clinical research and collaboration throughout our community, nationally and even internationally, to improve outcomes for all children experiencing traumatic brain injury.”

Research is an essential component of the new TBI center

Research equipment, renovated lab space and a new pediatric brain injury registry are among the research components of the Children’s Hospital Foundation grant. Physicians are also involved in several studies with children’s hospitals across the country, further enhancing CHoR’s role in the development of future guidelines for the care and treatment of pediatric brain injury.

“Collaborating with other experts around the world is crucial in ensuring the very best care and outcomes,” said Dr. O’Meara. “We’re all in this together to create the clear, gold standard for caring for children and adolescents with traumatic brain injury.”

Expanded staffing helps patients in many ways

Foundation funding has enabled several new positions to assist patient families. Dedicated clinical nurse navigators are already helping families access services as they progress through the phases of brain injury recovery, providing a seamless process within the center as well as reintegration in school, sports and recreational activities. Nurse navigators are also tracking data, following up with patients to answer questions and ensure compliance with treatment, and communicating with patients’ providers in the community to promote coordinated care for each child’s specific needs.

Foundation funding also supports the integration of master’s level athletic trainers in patient care, concussion testing and clinical research data collection.

Several brain conditions to benefit

While the new center’s initial focus is traumatic brain injury, the resultant research and care will provide a model for understanding and treating a variety of conditions that impact brain health, such as stroke, brain tumors, sickle cell disease, auto-immune encephalitis, infections and uncontrolled seizures.

The comprehensive traumatic brain injury program is the latest in a series of improvements and expansions CHoR has made to its neurosciences programs thanks to generous contributions from the community. The neurosurgery program expanded services between 2015 and 2018 and a neuro-oncologist was hired in 2018.

Contact us

For more information on our traumatic brain injury services or to schedule an appointment, please contact our clinical nurse navigator at 804-628-4878 or toll-free 855-742-4878.