Polytrauma/TBI System of Care

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PSC Bulletin

The Polytrauma System of Care (PSC) Bulletin is authored by members of the Polytrauma and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) community, including: patients, spouses, caregivers, doctors, nurses, technicians, and caseworkers. The intent is to present unique perspectives surrounding issues and happenings within the area of polytrauma and TBI.

Polytrauma Updates

Posted By:
Dr. Lucille Beck
Apr 1, 2013

Dr. Lucille Beck

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Polytrauma System of Care (PSC) is the largest integrated system of care dedicated to the medical rehabilitation of Veterans and Servicemembers with combat and non-combat related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and polytrauma. Today, PSC encompasses specialized rehabilitation programs at 109 medical facilities across the VA. These programs are organized into a four tier system that ensures access to the appropriate level of rehabilitation based on the needs of the Veteran and Servicemember.

The PSC has 5 regional Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (PRC) that serve as regional referral centers for acute medical and rehabilitation care, and as hubs for research and education; 23 Polytrauma Network Sites that coordinate polytrauma services within the Veterans Integrated Service Networks; 87 Polytrauma Support Clinic Teams that provide specialized evaluation, treatment, and community re-integration services within their catchment areas; and 39 Polytrauma Points of Contact to facilitate referrals and access to PSC services.

The hallmark of polytrauma rehabilitation in the PSC is the interdisciplinary, patient-centered approach to care. Teams of rehabilitation specialists work with Veterans and their families to develop Individualized Rehabilitation and Community Reintegration Plans of Care to guide the services received in the PSC programs. A case manager is assigned to each patient to coordinate services and to ensure that patients and their families have a strong voice into how services are delivered.

The PSC leads the nation in advancing rehabilitation care for TBI and polytrauma. Recent developments in the PSC include:

  • Integration with the VA Amputation System of Care to provide acute and long-term medical, rehabilitation and prosthetic needs for individuals with amputations;
  • Assistive Technology Labs at the PRCs offering comprehensive evaluation, prescription and training for the use of technology to optimize the Veterans' independence and community participation goals;
  • Emerging Consciousness Programs at the PRCs serving Veterans and Servicemembers who are slow to recover consciousness after severe brain injuries;
  • Expanding telerehabilitation services to include standardized protocols for remote TBI evaluation, devices for in-home monitoring of TBI symptoms, and the upcoming release of the TBI Coach, an app for the self management of TBI symptoms.
  • Opening of a new state-of-the-art Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at the Audie Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, to serve the large concentration of Veterans and Servicemembers who reside or are stationed in that area.
Regardless of the source of injury (e.g., combat-related, accidents, other) or nature of the disorder (e.g., brain injury, stroke, amputation, blindness, polytrauma), VA Polytrauma System of Care will continue to provide state-of-the-science, comprehensive evidenced-based rehabilitation services to improve and maintain the physical and cognitive function of all patients in its care.