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Brain Injury and Concussion

Gillette Provides a Higher Level of Care for Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

A blanket of fresh snow and a pond of clear ice are two key elements for a fun winter day.

The providers at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare want to ensure you and your family create good memories in the winter weather and take precautions to prevent traumatic brain injuries during sledding, skiing and skating.

January is recognized as National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness month. Almost 200,000 people were treated for injuries related to winter sports in 2018, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to a CPSC study, more than 40 percent of snow skiing and snowboarding-related head injuries reported could be prevented or minimized with helmet use. Helmets can partially absorb the force and dissipate the energy of blunt trauma to the head.

Prevention and precaution are the keys to staying safe and minimizing injuries. If your child does become injured the team at Gillette has a higher level of training to deal with pediatric TBIs. Gillette’s comprehensive approach includes state-of-the art tools to diagnose a TBI, specially trained neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, rehabilitation therapists and pediatric rehabilitation medicine physicians. In fact, Gillette has the highest concentration of pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialists in the nation and is just one of three pediatric specialty programs in Minnesota accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Gillette is one of eight U.S. pediatric inpatient rehabilitation facilities to have CARF accreditation for both its pediatric specialty and pediatric brain injury programs. 

Pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialist, Nanette Aldahondo, MD, has years of experience treating children who are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. 

Pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialist, Nanette Aldahondo, MD, has years of experience treating children who are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. 

Getting children back to their lives and community

Pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialist, Nanette Aldahondo, MD, has years of experience treating children who are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. “One of the things we’re most proud of at Gillette is how we’re able to get patients back into their community after an injury. For our kids that means going back to school and being with family and friends.”

Aldahondo is pleased that many of the pediatric rehabilitation therapists, nurses, social workers inpatient care coordinators and other and support staff at Gillette have Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS) certification. That means these providers have received special training designed to address the needs of people who have a brain injury and have at least 500 hours of direct contact caring for brain injury patients.

Aldahondo says another strong benefit at Gillette is its partnership with Regions Hospital to provide Minnesota’s first Level I Pediatric Trauma Center. It offers the highest level of care for children and teens who have experience traumatic injuries such as a TBI. “When kids arrive at Gillette after a trauma our neurosurgeons and specially trained staff are there right away helping these injured children,” Aldohondo says. “That means we can provide coordinated care right away for these patients as they spend time in our pediatric intensive care unit. This helps with the continuity of care and allows us to start the rehab process as early as the intensive care unit before they come to our official rehab unit.”

Gillette also provides care for concussions which are considered mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries. “A concussion can happen after a significant blow to the head, like in sledding, ice skating or biking,” Aldahondo says. “After the incident a child might lose consciousness for a short period of time and might be confused and have problems with memory.” Aldahondo says it’s important for these children to get evaluated immediately so they can get the appropriate treatment.

“I really want parents to make sure children are wearing helmets and seatbelts,” Aldahondo says. “Doing these two simple things can really improve child safety.” She also advises parents to secure windows and large items like dressers or televisions. “Children can climb on these objects or fall through an open window and take a terrible fall,” she cautions.

“Our main goal is to make sure everyone stays safe, but I really think Gillette provides exceptional care for patients who are diagnosed with a TBI,” Aldahondo says. “We work hard to make sure each child can successfully transition back into the community and we also work hard to communicate and collaborate with that child’s primary care provider.”

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