Post-Trauma Care and Recovery 

Traumatic injuries are severe blunt or penetrating injuries that can be life-threatening or cause long-term disabilities. These injuries require immediate medical intervention and are usually the result of a traumatic event, like a motor vehicle accident, heavy machinery accident, fall, or violent wound. Events like these can cause multiple traumas to different parts of the body and generally require short-term acute care in an intensive care unit. The highly trained ICU staff specialize in providing immediate post-trauma care for patients who need advanced medical resources and equipment. Once the patient is stabilized, they may be ready for discharge from a traditional hospital but still require additional time and medical oversight to rehabilitate or achieve a complete recovery. Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, for example, can take quite a bit of time, as medical teams work to restore lost functional abilities and prevent secondary complications.

Kindred Hospitals offer post-trauma care for those who need a longer period of time to recover from a severe injury, multiple traumas, or polytrauma, most often those that affect the brain, spinal cord, or skeletal system. The interdisciplinary team at Kindred specializes in medically complex situations where multiple areas of the body have been affected or there is a high likelihood of complications. The specialists, physicians, nurses, and rehabilitation experts who make up this team work together to create integrated, customized post trauma care plans based on the type of trauma a person has experienced, the severity of their injuries, possible complications, and any other factors that may affect their recovery.

“A person who has experienced a trauma can suffer the effects of the injury for months, years, or in severe cases, a lifetime,” says Dr. Dean French, Chief Medical Officer. “In order for a person to achieve the highest level of post-trauma rehabilitation, they must receive in-depth, holistic trauma care that is designed specifically for their recovery goals, for as long as they need it. This is what they receive at Kindred — a focused, multi-disciplined team of clinical experts that work together to successfully transition patients to the next level of recovery.”

If you or someone you love has recently spent time in an ICU as a result of a traumatic injury, Kindred’s care team can support you through an extended recovery process that enables you to transition safely back home.

Why Would I Need Extended Post-Trauma Care? 

Because traumatic events like motor vehicle accidents and falls can cause multiple traumas, polytrauma, or a single, life-threatening injury, patients receiving post-trauma care generally require support from life-saving equipment like a ventilator, which facilitates breathing and gives the body more strength to recover. Though mechanical ventilation may be necessary to stabilize a patient, it can also take time until it is no longer needed, so many people come to Kindred for help with ventilator weaning. Others, like those who have suffered an acute puncture wound or have had to undergo a major surgery as a result of their traumatic injury, may need advanced wound care.

Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation is another reason many people are admitted to long-term acute care hospitals that provide extended post-trauma care. In the intensive care unit of a traditional hospital, the traumatic brain injury care plan focuses on reducing pressure inside the skull, maintaining vitals like oxygen, blood supply levels, and blood pressure, and minimizing secondary damage due to inflammation, bleeding, or reduced oxygen supply to the brain. In some cases, surgery may be performed to remove clotted blood, repair skull fractures, stop bleeding in the brain, or create an opening to relieve pressure. After a person is stabilized, they may need to relearn basic skills, like walking or talking. Often this takes place at an an LTACH, where the traumatic brain injury care plan focuses on physical and occupational rehabilitation, with support from a team of specialists, like physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, behavioral health specialists, and social workers. This type of post-trauma care helps patients regain mental and physical function, increasing their changes for a successful recovery.

Traumatic spinal cord injuries, like those caused by a car accident, gunshot wound or fall, can cause complete loss of muscle function or sensation. Immediate trauma care for spinal cord injuries, including medication, immobilization, and sometimes surgery or experimental treatments, takes place in the intensive care unit of a traditional hospital, but oftentimes post-trauma care at an LTACH is necessary to treat complications, regain function, or help a patient adapt to a decreased level of mobility.

Anyone who has received trauma care in an intensive care unit is at risk for developing post-intensive care syndrome, which is a collection of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that persist after a patient leaves the ICU. The stress of the trauma, sedation, life-sustaining equipment, medications, and procedures can have a serious, and often lasting effect. Post-trauma care in an LTACH setting gives patients more time to recover and regain physical, mental, and emotional functions impaired by a stay in the intensive care unit.

Many patients who stay with us at Kindred Hospitals are experiencing one or more of these conditions and need extended care by a team of doctors, nurses, and specialists highly trained in post-trauma care.

Post-Trauma Care: The Interdisciplinary Approach at Kindred

At Kindred Hospital, our interdisciplinary team approach to post-trauma care is key to the success of our patients. 

“Our interdisciplinary care model is designed to offer both the time and resources for in-depth evaluation, comprehensive treatment, and close monitoring of your recovery,” says Dr. French. “This is a critical component of our post-trauma care and helps facilitate a more successful recovery for patients who have suffered tremendously from one, or multiple traumas.”

If you or a loved one are admitted to Kindred for post-trauma care, your case will be followed by an attending physician. In addition, a variety of specialists are available for consultation if required.

Your interdisciplinary team may include: 

  • Pulmonologists
  • Cardiologists
  • Infectious disease specialists 
  • Surgeons
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists
  • Behavioral health specialists
  • Social workers

Together, our interdisciplinary care team will start by setting goals to help you either return home or reach your next level of care. 

If your existing physician is on staff at Kindred, then together you will be able to continue to direct the treatment plan. If not, we’ll consult with you and your physician to identify a physician preference on our staff. 

“During your stay at Kindred,” Dr. French adds, “your interdisciplinary team will meet at least once a week to discuss care plans and determine whether any changes are necessary. We consider you and your family to be a vital part of the healthcare team, so you’ll be kept in the loop with regular communication to make sure the entire team is working toward the same recovery goals.”

Specialized Rehabilitation

Early rehabilitation is essential for recovering strength and function, especially post traumatic brain injury or spinal cord trauma. “Our patients receive specialized care provided by speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists,” says Dr. French. “Your interdisciplinary team will plan and coordinate these rehabilitation services based on your needs and recovery goals.”

Kindred Hospitals specialize in providing post-trauma care for those experiencing:

Success Spotlight: Jeff's Story

Jeff came to Kindred Hospital after having been hospitalized for severe injuries sustained in a car accident. He sustained an acute head injury and multiple fractures and had to be placed on a ventilator and feeding tube. Once he had undergone multiple surgeries and had been stabilized he was able to be transferred.

At the beginning of his stay at Kindred, Jeff required full assistance from his team of caregivers for all his needs and was experiencing cognitive difficulties as a result of his head injury. With patience, dedication and hard work from everyone on his team, Jeff began to make progress in this and all areas of his recovery and was able to be weaned from the ventilator. He then progressed to drinking and eating a regular diet and made excellent gains with his physical and occupational therapists. In the rehab gym, Jeff was helped a great deal by the LiteGait therapeutic device that assisted him in recovering his sense of balance and the ability to start to use his legs to walk again. By the time he was discharged to continue with his rehabilitation, Jeff had recovered a great deal of his independence over the activities of daily life and was hopeful about the next step of his journey.

“My family and I are very grateful to everyone here at Kindred for helping to jump start my recovery,” Jeff affirmed before leaving the facility. “I’m looking forward to continuing to improve and get my health back so I can return home.”