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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Brain Injury Program

Highly Specialized Care for Children with Brain Injuries

The Brain Injury Program at Floating Hospital for Children treats children and adolescents who have acute or chronic symptoms, often disabling, from traumatic brain injuries and spine injuries. We focus on helping children improve their physical and cognitive function — and all other aspects of their well-being.

Our deeply experienced, highly trained physiatrists manage your child’s care with compassion and understanding in the warm, supportive environment of our office located on the campus of Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Treatment from a Physician Specializing in Pediatric Brain Injuries

The symptoms of a child who has suffered a brain or spine injury may include pain, limited mobility, limb dysfunctions, gait (walking) problems and other physical issues.  Injured children also may face memory problems, speech deficits, mood disorders and psychosocial problems such as struggling to maintain friendships.

Fortunately, our program is directed by a physiatrist with 15 years of experience in treating children with brain and/or spinal injuries — and the range of disabilities and conditions that can accompany them.

Patrick Brennan, MD is a former medical director of the inpatient pediatric unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where for nearly a decade he treated children and adolescents with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes and brain tumors. At Spaulding, Dr. Brennan coordinated and directed specialists from multiple disciplines to care for children with some of the most severe injuries, including multiple trauma.

In 2,000, Dr. Brennan’s physiatry and research expertise led to his receiving the prestigious Gary R. Davidoff Award from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan, where he completed a two-year fellowship in pediatric rehabilitation. Today at our program, he applies advanced physiatric techniques to help children improve their function and enjoy everyday activities.

Dr. Brennan also uses and recommends a variety of other innovative therapies, always grounded in the latest research and evidence, that address the emotional, psychosocial and cognitive problems experienced by children  who have suffered brain or spine injuries. He understands how factors such as exercise, sleep, proper nutrition and memory interact to positively affect recovery from brain injury, and he will describe these interactions in details to you.

Every brain and spine injury is different, which makes diagnosis and treatment a challenge. To ensure your child receives the most beneficial combination of therapies, we always begin with an in-depth evaluation of your child, which also includes listening closely to you and your family.

Based on our evaluation, we design a care plan focused on your child’s unique needs, covering every aspect of rehabilitation to help your child reach his or her goals, from going back to school or walking with confidence to returning to a sports team or part-time job.

Therapies and treatments to restore or improve your child’s function may include:

Depending on the injury, we also may recommend or refer your child to our colleagues at Floating Hospital in areas such as Pediatric Orthopaedics, Neurology, Neurosurgery or Psychiatry. Drawing on his wide-ranging experience and evaluation of your child’s condition, Dr. Brennan also may prescribe other clinically proven recommendations to enhance your child’s rehabilitation.

Common treatment approaches for families and patients include:

  • Education of parents about every aspect of their child’s injury
  • Recommendations for in-depth academic evaluation by an independent expert, which help teachers understand how the brain injury has affected learning
  • Cardiovascular exercise to improve sleep, which in turn can boost  memory, mood and concentration
  • A sleep study to determine if sleep apnea or another disorder is interfering with normal sleep
  • Aerobic exercise  and nutritional supplements, such as foods rich in Omega-3,-6 and -9 fatty acids, which aid in both brain cell growth and recovery
  • Education of the injured child’s peers and siblings so they understand the personality and behavior changes

In some cases, we may recommend medications to stabilize mood and improve concentration, but we follow this approach only when necessary and usually for a short term.

Dr. Brennan also prioritizes support and education for you and your family so you can be the best care providers for your child during rehabilitation and maintain your own health while doing so. Caring for children — and their families — is central to our mission here at Floating Hospital for Children.

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