Brain Injury Medical Team: Medical Personnel for TBI


Brain Injury Medical Team

A team approach is called for in most severe brain injury cases. While the lead doctor is not always present, each member of this severe brain injury medical team has a specific and job to do. To help family members understand what each team member does we have made this page.

Neurosurgeon/Brain Surgeon, M.D.

The neurosurgeon is the specialist trained to care perform brain surgery as part of the brain injury medical team. This phycicain is also responsible for coordinating the medical treatment of the severely brain injured survivor making the recommendation for brain surgery.

Neurologist, M.D.

The neurologist is the medical doctor part of the brain injury medical team who treats disorders of the brain and the nervous system. Neurologists are often not the best authority for diagnosing brain injury as this speciality is extremely broad and brain injury is a relatively small part of it.

Rehab Nurses

One of the best members of the severe brain injury team is the rehabilitation nurses.  Rehab nurses provide all patient care, act as a liaison to other medical personnel. Perhaps because they listen better, they are often the best patient advocate. They may also be the most knowledgable team member about brain injury.

Respiratory Therapist

The respiratory therapist role, as part of the brain injury medical team, is with helping the patient breathe as a means of preventing further complications. If the survivor is on a respirator, the respiratory therapist is responsible for making sure the respirator is working properly.

Physiatrist/Rehab Doctors, M.D.

The physisatrist is a physician concerned with evaluating the impact of the brain injury on the functioning of the survivor’s body and helping the survivor to overcome any physical disability that has occurred. Often times the physiatrist is a more knowledgeable brain injury professional than most MD’s, as they have longer range contact with the survivor and the family members than other medical specialists.

Physical Therapist/PT

PT’s help the survivor regain optimal function of body movement and to prevent further deterioration in the unconscious patient. With the comatose patient, this initially involves moving the arms and legs and thereby exercising unused muscles.

Occupational Therapist/OT

The OT helps the survivor with activities of daily living and with restoring function necessary to return to employment.   h help them return to gainful employment and maximum independence.

Speech Therapist/Speech Pathologist

The speech therapist or speech pathologist is concerned with helping the TBI patient return to normal speech and or  learn alternative methods of communication.

Neuropsychologist, Ph.D.

This doctor of psychology is charged with assessing the functioning of the survivor’s brain.  He or she may also will assist with emotional and behavioral problems. Unfortunately, too many neuropsychologists do not get involved in actual rehabilitation, so make sure that someone actually performs this role.

Depending on the nature and severity of the brain injury the admitting physician may consult with other specialists including infectious disease control; ENT’s or neurootologists; orthopedic surgeons; ophthalmologists; etc.

NEXT: ICU Equipment.

by Attorney Gordon Johnson