Neurotrauma in Children - Pediatric Specialists
The Neurotrauma team at Phoenix Children's Hospital cares for children who have suffered a traumatic brain or spine injury. The Neurotrauma Program combines the talents from two of our Centers of Excellence - the Children’s Neuroscience Institute and the Pediatric Trauma Center, which is the only verified Level 1 (highest level) Pediatric Trauma Center in Arizona.
Treating a neurotrauma patient involves a broad field of specialists throughout the patient's entire stay at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Here are some of the personnel that will help the patient and family through admission to departure:
Trauma Center Staff
In some cases, our neurotrauma patients arrive immediately after a brain or spinal injury has occurred and are treated at our Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, which offers the highest level of care. A dedicated trauma center has trained staff and specific equipment to deal with pediatric patients - a factor that can reduce the potential of fatalities and severe, permanent injuries to our young patients. Studies have shown that care at a trauma center lowers the risk of death by 25 percent compared to non-trauma centers.
Our expert, pediatric neurosurgeons are part of the trauma team, which includes a multi-disciplinary team of specialists.
About half of all neurotrauma patients require surgery to alleviate the hematomas (pocketing or pooling of blood) or contusions, bleeding and bruising of the brain and spinal cord. Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s staff of neurosurgeons and nurses is experienced with this branch of pediatric neurosurgery.
Surgery is sometimes required to alleviate the secondary complications that arise with neurotrauma to help relieve any pressure from swelling brain and spinal tissues, or remove infected tissues.
Dedicated ICU Nurses
After stabilization at the Trauma Center, the nursing staff at the Intensive Care Unit takes over the care of the patient. The hospital has a dedicated Pediatric Intensive Care Unit especially for neurology and neurosurgery patients.
Diagnosis and Monitoring Specialists
Once a patient who has been admitted to the Trauma Center has been stabilized, a team of specialists works to monitor and diagnose the extent of the neurological issues.
The hospital's staff of pediatric radiologists, interventional radiologists, neuroradiologists, nuclear medicine physicians, nurses and technologists are trained and experienced with imaging and diagnostic procedures on children of all ages. Since the team is trained to work with kids and has the experience and know-how, there will be safer, faster, and more accurate test results for your child. Our team uses X-rays, interventional radiology, CT scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, fluoroscopy and nuclear medicine tests.
Our specialists also monitor Intracranial Pressure, or ICP, after a child suffers a brain injury. ICP is measured by how much pressure exists between the brain and surrounding fluid, and the skull. Too much fluid between the brain and the skull can cause further damage to the brain.
Some of our neurotrauma patients are admitted some time after a brain or spinal injury has occurred, when secondary symptoms arise — including severe psychiatric distress. The hospital's team of neuropsychologists will evaluate these patients, with testing based on an appreciation of functional neuroanatomy and normal brain development, to define how a child is functioning in comparison to expectations for that child's age level.
After a brain or spinal injury occurs, the brain — especially a child's brain — will begin to “rewire” itself and commence healing. The team of therapists, nurses and physicians are part of the Frances H. McClelland Rehabilitation Program — the only program focused solely on child rehabilitation services in the state. The Hospital’s rehabilitation team starts as soon as possible to encourage the healing process, with the goal of bringing the patient to the highest potential.
Family Services Staff
A neurotrauma patient may require treatment and rehabilitation over an extended period — a process that deeply involves the patient's family and community. The Hospital’s Family Services staff is there to support the parents, siblings and extended family members through the whole healing process.
Back to School
The rehabilitation process does not end once a patient leaves our hospital. Our school re-entry program helps to plan the child's return to the classroom and continue rehabilitation services at home.
Additional services offered as part of our school re-entry program include:
- IEP/504 meetings
- Development of accommodations needed for return to school
- Working with families on special education processes
- Coordination of homebound services