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What is a Catastrophic injury: Definition, Causes, and Prevention

When is an injury considered ‘catastrophic’?

‘Catastrophic injury’ is a widely used term but it’s not always used correctly. Many times we hear about ‘catastrophic injuries’ in various contexts – in the news, ER rooms, during sports events broadcasts, etc. One may wonder – when is the injury considered ‘catastrophic’? Unfortunately, there isn’t just one correct answer, as the universally accepted legal definition of a catastrophic injury doesn’t exist. There is however a commonly used specification that describes the injury as a severe injury to the spine, spinal cord, or brain, and may also include skull or spinal fractures, loss of a limb and severe burn injuries that leads to a permanent or long-term severe functional disability or disfigurement. Such injuries often require post-acute rehab and involve a lifetime of medical treatment, multiple surgical procedures and an extensive and difficult recovery process.

Examples of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Amputations
  • Multiple bone fractures
  • Organ damage

It can be caused by many factors, mainly accidents that cause physical trauma, such as an automobile accident. However, as mentioned in our previous article, this type of injury can also be caused during activities that we don’t normally associate with a risk of getting seriously injured, such as a football match or a cheerleading event.

What are different types of catastrophic injuries associated with?

Brain trauma – catastrophic injuries of the head may cause life-long effects, such as cognitive dysfunction, speech problems, limited mobility, etc.

Spinal cord injury – is commonly associated with full or partial paralysis, respiratory and circulatory problems, exaggerated reflexes and spasms, chronic pain, loss of bowel and bladder control.

Severe burns – infections, limited mobility, chronic pain

Amputations – limited mobility

Organ damage – can cause many different conditions, including those that are life-threatening

What are common causes of catastrophic injuries?

Some of the most common sources of catastrophic injuries are:

  • Car accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Falls
  • Sport and recreational activities
  • Construction accidents
  • Medical mistakes
  • Defective medical devices or drugs1

Preventing Catastrophic Injuries

In some cases, catastrophic injuries could be prevented. Often it is just a matter of being mindful and taking care of the necessary safety measures. Here are just a couple of suggestions on how to prevent catastrophic injuries:

  • Obeying Health & Safety guidelines in the workplace
  • Putting seatbelts on
  • Wearing protective gear
  • Be mindful of your surroundings

NeuLife Rehabilitation – the best choice for post acute rehab programs

However, even when you’re being extra careful, accidents do happen. When you or your loved one suffers from a catastrophic injury, it is a physically and emotionally challenging experience. During this difficult time, you need the best possible quality of care as well as the highest-standard professional assistance. NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest residential post acute rehab programs specializing in rehabilitation for a wide range of catastrophic injuries. We are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Brain Injury Rehabilitation Programs and Residential Rehabilitation.

Our professional staff makes sure that you and your family are being taken care of by the best specialists in the area. We encourage you to find out more about our facility and our programs. If you have any questions at all, we are here for you – call us or make a referral using our easy to navigate and convenient online form. We are looking forward to helping you achieve your goals.

Cheerleaders and catastrophic injuries. Is cheerleading the most dangerous female sport?

 It’s a controversial question, but recent studies suggest that the answer is actually yes. If you look at the numbers, there is no doubt that cheerleading is the sport that poses the biggest risk of catastrophic injuries to sports women:

  • A study conducted by The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research (NCCSIR) found that collegiate cheerleading accounted for 70.5% of all female catastrophic sports injuries and high school cheerleading for 65.2% of all high school female catastrophic sports injuries
  • In 1980, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported an estimated 4954 hospital emergency room visits caused by cheerleading
  • In 2007, the number increased to 26 786, with head and neck injuries accounting for 15.1% of these visits. Almost all of the patients with injuries (98%) were treated and released, but in 2007, 221 cheerleaders were hospitalized, 217 were treated and transferred to another hospital, and 64 were held for observation.

Being one of the most popular sports among high school and college students, it’s clear that injuries connected with cheerleading are not a minor issue. As we know, it is a sport that involves a lot of acrobatics. And all kinds of gymnastic stunts, including throwing a person up to 30 ft in the air. We have to remember that cheerleading as we know it nowadays is actually  quite a recent development. Compared to 1970s pom-pom shaking and vocal cheering, cheerleading of the 2000s is a completely different – and much more dangerous – sport. Injuries are more common, including brain and catastrophic injuries.

If you read our last article on brain injuries among football players, you know just how dangerous sports can be. According to F. Mueller and R. Cantu in “Twenty-Sixth Annual Report for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. Fall 1982–Spring 2008”: The lesson learned in football injury data collection can also be applied to cheerleading: injuries may never be totally eliminated, but with reliable injury data collection systems, constant analysis of the data, and the development, evaluation, and dissemination of effective injury prevention strategies, these injuries can be dramatically reduced.

Catastrophic injuries – where can I look for help?

If you or your loved one suffers from a catastrophic injury, you can find the best care at NeuLife Rehab, a facility that provides specialized catastrophic rehabilitation programs for a wide range of catastrophic injuries. The customized programs will meet the individual needs of each patient. Our team consists of clinical and administrative professionals with a collective 200 years of clinical rehabilitation experience.

NeuLife Rehab – Brain Injury Rehab Programs

As a leading inpatient rehabilitation facility, we are able to treat a wide range of diagnoses and injuries, such as:

  • Brain Injury (TBI, ABI & MBI)
  • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
  • Amputations
  • Stroke
  • Catastrophic Injuries
  • Orthopedic Injuries
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Read more about our Brain Injury Center, Post Acute Rehab, and Residential Rehabilitation programs in Florida or call NeuLife today at 800.626.3876.

This article was written on behalf of the practice by RedCastle Services. RedCastle specializes in Online Marketing for Doctors, including Medical SEO, SEO for doctors, and Medical Website Design. Contact RedCastle Services today to find out how we can help your practice increase its number of online patient referrals.

Just one season of high school football increases the risks of brain injury.

You have probably already heard about the correlation between contact sports and brain injury, but perhaps you didn’t quite realize just how strong this correlation is. A study by Dr. Joseph Maldijan from UT Southwestern showed that one season of high school football alone was enough to cause physiological changes in the brain.

In the study, two small groups of high school football players were monitored over the course of a season. Their helmets were equipped with sensors which could measure the number and level of impacts to the head. Moreover all players were given preseason brain MRI scans and cognitive testing and then received the same testing postseason. This, combined with Diffusional Kurtosis Imaging (DKI), revealed physiological and functional differences in preseason and postseason results.

“All this data is pointing to the same thing — that is that one season of football has an effect on the brain”. Said Dr. Maldijan about the study.

As a sport with one of the highest levels of contact (including contact to the head), science is showing how such sports can contribute to brain injury. Fortunately, catastrophic brain injuries are relatively rare, even in football; however, they do sometimes occur.

Unfortunately, the correlation between football and brain injuries is not a new one, which is why the NFL set up the NFL Head, Neck, and Spine Committee in the 1990s. The Committee is focused on the neurological health of players and aims to reduce the incidence. And severity of brain (as well as neck and spine) injuries in the sport.

Brain injury rehab – what treatment options are available for brain injuries?

It is important to realize, catastrophic brain injuries are rare. But when they happen, what brain injury rehab programs are available? NeuLife Rehab is a provider of brain injury rehab programs at our brain injury facility in Florida and is experienced in providing the necessary treatment programs and care to rehabilitate patients who have suffered a brain injury. As an illustration the brain injury facility, situated on 43 rolling acres, has 54 private patient suites. Also a whole range of amenities available for brain injury patients, depending on their specific needs. Must be remembered that these include a full-service kitchen, fully equipped therapy rooms, an outdoor working garden, skills retraining laundry room, on-site equine therapy and many other amenities.

In terms of the brain injury rehab program itself. To explain it is administered by a multi-specialty staff, including physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, nurse case managers. In the same way psychologists, among others, depending on the individualized needs and circumstances on the brain injured patient.

Further information about NeuLife Rehab

NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest residential post-acute rehabilitation facilities in the Southeast with specialized residential rehabilitation programs for a wide range of catastrophic injuries. We are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Brain Injury Rehab Programs and Residential Rehabilitation.

Our programs are customized to meet the individual needs of each patient, especially care plans are structured to promote the highest level of functional independence and successful community re-integration. Through the skills and experience of our highly trained team of clinical experts. We are able to provide the following programs:

Where can I get more information about brain injury rehabilitation programs?

To point out read more about NeuLife’s brain injury rehabilitation program in Florida, or call NeuLife today at 800.626.3876.

This article was written on behalf of the practice by RedCastle Services. RedCastle specializes in Online Marketing for Doctors, including Medical SEO, SEO for doctors, and Medical Website Design. Contact RedCastle Services today to find out how we can help your practice increase its number of online patient referrals.

The Correlation Between Outcomes & Cost of Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation

According to scientifically validated research, post-acute brain injury rehabilitation, one of the specialized services we offer at our brain injury facility – NeuLife Rehab, improves the quality of life of individuals who have experienced an acquired brain injury (ABI) and reduces lifetime medical costs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that ABI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. ABIs contribute to about 30.5% of all injury-related deaths. Those who survive an ABI can face short term effects or long-term effects that could last the rest of their lives. In the United States, approximately 5.3 million people have ABI-related disabilities that include long lasting cognitive and psychological impairments. The effects of ABI can include impaired thinking, attention or memory, movement, balance, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect brain injury survivors and their ability to work, perform household tasks, drive and engage in other activities of daily living but have profound effects on families and communities. Permanent ABI-related disability can also result in enormous financial burden including significant medical costs.

Rehabilitation is the predominant post-acute treatment for individuals with ABI. Scientific research confirms that a post-acute rehabilitation program with a multidisciplinary approach such as the program we provide at our brain injury facility – NeuLife Rehab , is more likely to be effective in the treatment of ABI patients. NeuLife’s multidisciplinary program includes, but is not limited to physiatry medical management, nursing services, psychiatry, internal medicine, physical, occupational, speech, recreational and neuropsychological/neurobehavioral therapies, community re-integration and vocational evaluation.

In an article published in the May 2015 issue of Journal of Neurotrauma called “Post-Acute Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation: Effects on Outcome Measures and Life Care Costs” written by Grace S. Griesbach, Lisa A. Kreber, David Harrington and Mark J. Ashley, the authors scientifically evaluated and measured both the functional effectiveness and cost effectiveness of post-acute ABI rehabilitation by comparing outcome measures and life care costs with that of patients with cerebrovascular accident (CVA) who underwent a similar multidisciplinary rehabilitation program. In this retrospective study of 36 former ABI and CVA rehab patients, functional effectiveness was determined through an assessment of the patient’s level of functional independence at least one (1) year post discharge, using outcome scales that evaluate level of disability as well as social, cognitive, emotional and physical problems. Cost effectiveness was determined by completion of life care plans, or lifetime cost projections by independent certified life care planners for each of the 36 patients, both prior to, and after, post-acute rehabilitation, i.e., with and without post-acute rehabilitation. Of note, the majority of the patients in the study completed a residential post-acute rehabilitation program for 5 days per week for variable lengths of stay; however, the median duration of treatment was 197 days of rehabilitation.

The data conclusively revealed that post-acute rehabilitation, with or without traditional acute rehabilitation, significantly improved functional outcomes for all 36 patients. These patients demonstrated improved quality of life, higher levels of function and independence, decreased disability and level of assistance needed for daily living, reduction in ABI-related morbidity and increases in occupational status or ability to return to work or vocation. The team of clinical experts at NeuLife proudly stands behind its quality clinical outcomes including, but not limited to its functional, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.

In addition to improved functional outcomes and quality of life, the study concluded that ABI-related lifetime cost projections markedly diminished after post-acute rehabilitation, referred to throughout the study as “rehabilitation savings” (RS). In other words, those patients who underwent post-acute ABI rehabilitation were projected to incur lower life care costs compared to patients who did not continue rehabilitation during the post-acute period. More specifically, the costs needed for long term needs such as hospitalizations, medical procedures, nursing, attendant care, medications and the like over the patient’s life expectancy significantly decreased after post-acute ABI rehabilitation. In fact, the study showed that on average, over $2 million was saved in lifetime costs per patient for those who received post-acute care. Cost and functional effectiveness was more pronounced when post-acute rehabilitation was initiated within the 1st year after ABI.

Read more: Brain injury facility


About NeuLife Rehabilitation
NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest residential post-acute rehabilitation programs of its kind specializing in catastrophic rehabilitation for Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and other complex injuries. Individuals who have experienced a catastrophic or complex work injury or illness such as an acquired brain or spinal cord injury, amputation, severe burn, complex orthopedic injury, stroke or other debilitating condition can now access quality specialized rehabilitation in a therapeutic, residential environment that offers individualized care and programming that will help them achieve the highest level of functional independence and the best quality of life.

NeuLife’s mission is to provide a comprehensive outcomes-based program of neuro rehab to support and promote the improvement of the quality of life of our patients. Based on our most recent data, our patients achieve an average functional improvement of 80% from admission to discharge. Our average length of stay varies depending on patient need. In addition, 86% of our patients are discharged to home, work or school and successfully reintegrated into the community, resulting in substantial rehabilitation savings for our patients with ABI, their families and other stakeholders.

NeuLife is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Programs include inpatient general and neurological rehabilitation, behavioral/cognitive therapy, community reintegration and Supported Living.

For additional information about NeuLife, please visit our website or call us at 1-800-626-3876. Please also feel free to contact our Clinical Liaisons, Wendy McCracken at 904-534-2518, Brandy Narciso at 813-892-5471 or Fred Langan at 727-308-8073 to discuss a possible referral.

NeuLife and Hurricane Irma – Patient Safety is #1 Priority

The doors to NeuLife Neurological Rehabilitation Services, an inpatient rehab facility in Mount Dora, Florida, remained open to serve patients, families, pets and staff during Hurricane Irma. NeuLife was, and continues to be, fully operational to serve the needs of its patients and the community, thanks to a highly professional and committed staff and the purchase of a $200,000 emergency generator, last year, which provided continuous electricity and air conditioning throughout our care facility.

Immediately prior to Hurricane Irma, NeuLife implemented its highest level of emergency readiness in preparation for winds predicted to reach 129 mph with higher gusts, according to Lake County officials. Clinical and non-clinical staff designated as Team A, the “Preparation” team, reported to the facility on Saturday, September 9, prepared to stay in-house with their families and pets until after the hurricane. Dedicated family and staff sleeping areas were assigned, a child care center was established, complete with a game room for entertainment and a pet shelter was created for the family pets.

Hurricane Irma tore through Mount Dora overnight Sunday and into Monday, bringing maximum sustained winds that reached as high as 76 mph, causing downed trees, blocked roadways and widespread power outages. As soon as the County announced it was safe to travel on local roads, NeuLife Team B, the Recovery Team, including clinical, non-clinical and support staff (therapy) relieved Team A and assisted in hurricane clean-up and other recovery efforts.

Throughout the storm, NeuLife maintained its focus – the safety and well-being of its patients. To its credit, NeuLife was able to maintain continuity and continue to provide high quality patient care and staffing without disruption.

Nikki Eldridge, RN, Director of Nursing at NeuLife Rehab said “Everyone did an awesome job during Hurricane Irma. Everything ran smoothly and we were able to continue to provide excellent care to those we serve. I have received many compliments from client’s and their families about how well the team did during the hurricane. We had several go above and beyond to be sure everything ran smoothly. I am honored to be a part of the team. I am very proud of everyone’s compassion and team work through this exhausting time.”

About NeuLife Rehabilitation Services
NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest residential post-acute rehabilitation programs of its kind specializing in catastrophic rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and other complex injuries. Individuals who have experienced a catastrophic or complex work injury or illness such as a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, amputation, severe burn, complex orthopedic injury, stroke or other debilitating condition can now access quality specialized rehabilitation in a therapeutic, residential environment that offers individualized care and programming that will help them achieve the highest level of functional independence and the best quality of life.

NeuLife is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Programs include inpatient general and neurological rehabilitation, behavioral/cognitive therapy, community reintegration and Supported Living.

NeuLife’s mission is to provide a comprehensive outcomes-based program of neuro rehabilitation to support and promote the improvement of the quality of life of our patients. Based on our most recent data, our patients achieve an average functional improvement of 80% from admission to discharge. Our average length of stay is 60 days. In addition, 86% of our patients are discharged to home, work or school and successfully reintegrated into the community.

Read more about our Brain Injury Center, Post Acute Rehab, and Residential Rehabilitation programs.

For additional information about NeuLife, please visit www.NeuLifeRehab.com or call us at 1-800-626-3876. Please also feel free to contact our Clinical Liaisons, Wendy McCracken at 904-534-2518, Brandy Narciso at 813-892-5471 or Fred Langan at 727-308-8073 to discuss a possible referral.