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TBI and COVID- What You Need To Know

Fairfax, Va. – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the medical leadership of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) wrote an open letter encouraging all individuals with brain injury to get vaccinated in order to avoid additional neuroinflammatory issues and keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

According to the American Academy of Neurology, anyone with a neurologic disorder such as brain injury is particularly vulnerable to diseases like influenza and COVID-19. In the medical community, brain injury is widely recognized as a chronic disease, meaning that it may further increase the risk of negative complications from COVID-19. Brain injury treatment programs are therefore trying to get their patients and staff vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“When one is infected with COVID-19, the virus attacks the ‘weakest link’ it finds in the body, which is why individuals with longstanding chronic medical issues are at greatest risk for infection, complications, and even death,” explained BIAA National Medical Director Brent E. Masel, M.D. “Studies have shown that traumatic brain injury triggers an inflammatory process in the brain that causes an individual to experience chronic issues. This process places those individuals at far greater risk of developing complications from COVID-19, which itself is well known to cause chronic neuroinflammatory issues.”

BIAA has received multiple inquiries as to the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. While it may cause transient symptoms, these are related to the general protective immune response that is desired to be triggered, such as arm soreness, headache, and fever. These symptoms generally resolve rapidly, often in as little as a day. “There is no evidence that receiving the vaccine will make TBI symptoms worse; however, a COVID-19 infection can do just that,” said Gregory J. O’Shanick, M.D., national medical director emeritus of BIAA. “Our clinical experience has seen severe neurobehavioral disturbance, delirium, psychosis, and, sadly, deaths.”

“Individuals who have sustained brain injury have led a lifelong courageous struggle to recover their health and independence,” said Dr. Masel. “Don’t quit now based on rumors from poorly informed or unknowledgeable sources. Get vaccinated. Get safe.”

The Association will address additional questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in an upcoming webinar. Individuals in need of information, resources, and support may speak with a brain injury specialist by contacting BIAA’s National Brain Injury Information Center (NBIIC) at 1-800-444-6443.

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Brain Injury Services During COVID-19 Update (January 2021)

During these unprecedented times, Brain Injury Services would like you to know that the health and safety of our employees, families, and community is our top priority. As we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic in our region, our team has been working to ensure that we stay up to date on the latest guidelines and regulations.

As of now, Brain Injury Services is virtual and will remain virtual through the end of March 31, 2020.

Our services have been adapted to an online format to ensure that our clients are still receiving the support they need. BIS has and will continue to develop policies and preventive measures to minimize risks for both our clients and staff. 

If you are currently or would be interested in participating in services, Brain Injury Services is currently offering the following: 

Pediatric Case Management Program 

The Pediatric Case Management Program is offering zoom meetings or phone conferences and phone check-in meetings. We are communicating with families at least once a month. We are also participating in IEP meetings virtually or by phone conference. 

Adult Case Management Program 

The Adult Case Management Program continues to provide case management services to their clients virtually and operate during normal business hours via phone, email, or zoom. Several types of virtual groups are currently offered. 

PALS & Person-Centered Programs 

PALS matches are connecting with via zoom chats, phone calls, texts and social media interactions monthly/bi-monthly. Speakers Bureau is up and running online. Speeches are now presented in a virtual format and we have 9 set up for the fall/winter months! 

Fredericksburg Day Program 

The Day Program is offering virtual cognitive games & skills, wellness & exercise, educational presentations and social groups – five days a week! The Journal Group and Men’s Group are running online. Individual sessions are held by appointment. The Day Program can provide some technical assistance and review technology purchase opportunities for clients. Please contact us for more details.

ADAPT Clubhouse 

ADAPT is offering 5 units a week including art, communications, kitchen, wellness, and a social hours. ADAPT members have helped plan each unit’s agenda and some have taken lead on presenting various topics! ADAPT’s virtual format has allowed participants who previously had transportation difficulties to attend more regularly.

ComPASS Program 

ComPASS is providing virtual consultations, individual sessions, and groups. The frequency of services varies depending on the client needs and therapist recommendations. Clients have been served via Zoom, Chrome Remote Desktop, Windows Quick Assist, and phone. 

Vocational Program 

The Vocational Program is providing services virtually! This includes regular phone calls, Zoom meetings, and email updates. We can complete intakes, and tasks like interview prep via Zoom.

We are able to complete intakes, and tasks like interview prep via Zoom. We are also doing team meetings with clients and other members of their team virtually. 

Counseling 

Our in-house therapist is currently offering one-on-one counseling and group counseling via Zoom for clients for the entire service area. She is also offering two bi-monthly support groups and co-facilitating the Caregiver Fundamentals once a month via Zoom.  

Groups 

Our groups continue to be virtual. Please check out the calendar on our website under News & Events or e-newsletter sent out to BIS clients. 

Please contact us with any questions or concerns.