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Frequently Asked Questions

►How long will my family member be at Mary Free Bed?
►What is the discharge criteria?
►What are the visiting hours at Mary Free Bed?
►Can family, or should family, be present for therapy?
►Are there times when it’s better for the family to not sit in on a therapy session?
►Can we bring our family pet in for a visit?
►How often does the doctor come in?
►How much therapy will my family member receive?
►Will my family member need therapy after discharge from Mary Free Bed?
►How long will therapy be needed after discharge?
►How long does it take to heal a brain injury?
►Why does my family member have problems swallowing?
►Why can my family member remember things from the past but can’t remember what he did today?
►Why did my family member’s personality change?
►Will my family member return to normal?
►When will my family member be able to return to work?
►When will my family member be able to drive?
►Can my family member drink alcohol?

How long will my family member be at Mary Free Bed?

The average length of stay for the Inpatient Brain Injury Program is about three weeks. However, the actual length of stay depends on the individual and when the goals of inpatient rehabilitation are achieved. Some patients stay less than a week while others may need several weeks of intensive rehab.

Prior to admission, a Mary Free Bed admissions coordinator views the records from the referring hospital and talks with hospital staff and family. At that time, an estimated length of stay is given. A more accurate length of stay will be decided once the patient gets arrives at Mary Free Bed and is evaluated by the therapy team and the physician. This information is communicated to the patient and family by the social worker. [Back to top]

What is the discharge criteria?

There are several variables considered before a patient is discharged. The most important criterion is whether or not the patient has met his or her inpatient goals medically and in therapy and can move to an outpatient or transitional setting for continued therapy. Sometimes discharge happens when a patient does not achieve the goals initially set because he or she is progressing slowly or is no longer progressing. Inpatient goals are established by the treatment team, physician, patient, and family. Insurance companies also play a role in establishing length of stay based on their inpatient criteria. [Back to top]

What are the visiting hours at Mary Free Bed?

The general visiting hours are from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Exceptions on an individual basis may be made for extenuating circumstances. [Back to top]

Can family, or should family, be present for therapy?

Family is welcome and encouraged to attend therapy sessions. Family members who will serve as the caregiver on discharge are expected to be present and go through family education and training prior to discharge. [Back to top]

Are there times when it’s better for the family to not sit in on a therapy session?

Yes, there may be times when family will be asked to either sit back or step out of the therapy session. This happens during situations where the patient is relying on family to answer questions and the family is trying to be helpful by intervening for the patient, or when the patient is distracted from the therapy session by the family member’s presence. [Back to top]

Can we bring our family pet in for a visit?

Yes. The therapeutic recreation specialist will work with you to complete the necessary paperwork and go over the required pet vaccinations. [Back to top]

How often does the doctor come in?

The attending physician comes in daily, Monday through Friday, to see the patient and talk with nursing and therapy staff. On the weekends, the patient will be seen by the on-call physician. [Back to top]

How much therapy will my family member receive?

An average of three hours per day, seven days per week. [Back to top]

Will my family member need therapy after discharge from Mary Free Bed?

Yes, most patients discharged require continued therapy. [Back to top]

How long will therapy be needed after discharge?

The length of time depends on the goals and if progress is being made toward those goals. The length of time can be as short as a couple of weeks for a milder brain injury or up to several months or even years for more severe injuries. [Back to top]

How long does it take to heal a brain injury?

A brain injury is different than a broken bone, where a certain length of time will determine when the bone will heal. Each brain injury is different and recovery depends on the degree and type of damage. Some brain injuries never fully recover. [Back to top]

Why does my family member have problems swallowing?

There are a number or reasons why your family member could have problems swallowing. For some people following a brain injury, it is very difficult for the brain to be able to focus on anything, including eating and drinking. Due to this lack of concentration, some food and liquids can enter the airway instead of the stomach. In other cases, the actual brain injury location and severity can create difficulty with the swallow response and the coordination or strength of the muscles involved in swallowing. [Back to top]

Why can my family member remember things from the past but can’t remember what he did today?

Before brain injury, the brain has an automatic internal system of “programming” or “filing” all information for later memory or recall. Often, an individual is unaware of this process. Remembering things from the past is possible because the old information has been programmed and filed and the brain knows where to go to get the information. Following a brain injury, this automatic system doesn’t “kick start” on its own. Therefore, the automatic filing of information doesn't occur, making it difficulty to recall all the new information that is happening from day to day. This part of the memory system is particularly sensitive to a lack of oxygen. [Back to top]

Why did my family member’s personality change?

When the front part of the brain (frontal lobes) is involved in a traumatic brain injury, it can affect how a person interacts with others. The frontal area of the brain is our “internal police officer.” It regulates what we should share with people, how we share information, and what we should keep to ourselves. After a brain injury, it can be difficult for an individual to police comments and actions or to recognize how comments may impact others. The ability to show different emotions may also be affected. [Back to top]

Will my family member return to normal?

The answer to this depends on the type and degree of injury. Some individuals will return to what is considered their normal functioning and personality. Individuals who have sustained a more severe injury may never be exactly the same as they were before they were injured. They may have residual physical and self-care impairments, difficulties with memory, problem solving, judgment, and critical thinking. They may also have personality changes. [Back to top]

When will my family member be able to return to work?

The therapy treatment team and/or neuropsychologist will assist in evaluating return-to-work potential. A referral may be made to Michigan Rehabilitation Services for further assessment, job training, and resources for successful return to work. [Back to top]

When will my family member be able to drive?

If there is any question or concern related to a person being safe driving a again, a referral and evaluation may be made to Mary Free Bed’s Driver Rehabilitation Program. [Back to top]

Can my family member drink alcohol?

It is strongly recommended that a person who has a brain injury abstain from using alcohol. It is suspected that alcohol use affects the recovering brain and threatens future recovery. In addition, alcohol use can compound the already existing problems that the person is recovering from or learning to live with, and it puts the individual at a higher risk of incurring a second brain injury. [Back to top]

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