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FAQs

Below are questions we often hear about our approach to rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury. Please talk to your brain injury treatment team about your specific questions or concerns. We're happy to tell you more about Mary Free Bed and what to expect as you recover from your injury.

How long will I be at Mary Free Bed?

The average length of stay for the inpatient Brain Injury Program is about two 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 require a longer stay.

What are the discharge criteria?

The most important criterion for discharge is whether you have met your inpatient medical and therapeutic goals, paving the way for continued therapy in an outpatient or transitional setting. Inpatient goals are established by you, your treatment team, your physician and family members. Sometimes discharge happens when  goals are not achieved, for example, if you are no longer progressing. Insurance coverage also is a factor.

Are there guidelines for sitting in on therapy?

Family is always welcome to sit in, but there may be times when family will be asked to either sit back or step out of the therapy session. This happens when those who love you are trying to be helpful by intervening unnecessarily or when the presence of family members may be a distraction.

How often will I see the doctor?

The attending physician comes in daily, Monday through Friday, to see you and talk with nursing and therapy staff. On the weekends, you will be seen by the on-call physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

Will I need therapy after discharge from Mary Free Bed?

Yes, most patients require continued therapy after they graduate from inpatient care. The length of time depends on your goals and if progress is being made toward those goals. It 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. You will be offered to continue your therapy through a Mary Free Bed outpatient or post-acute program that best meets your needs.

How long does it take for a brain injury to heal?

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 people with brain injuries never fully recover.

Why do I have problems swallowing?

Following a brain injury, it may be 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 injury location and severity can create difficulty with the swallow response and the coordination or strength of the muscles involved in swallowing.

Why can I remember things from the past but not from earlier today?

Before brain injury, the brain has an automatic internal system of “programming” or “filing” all information for later 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 difficult to recall all the new information that it is collecting each day.

Why did my personality change?

When the front part of the brain (frontal lobes) is involved in a traumatic brain injury, it can affect how you interact with others. The frontal area of the brain is like an internal filter. 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 control or filter comments and actions or to recognize how comments may impact others. The ability to show different emotions may also be affected.

When will I be able to return to work?

The physician, therapy treatment team and/or neuropsychologist will assist in evaluating return-to-work potential. A referral may be made to a vocational service, such as Michigan Rehabilitation Services, for further assessment, job training and resources for successful return to work.

Do you treat children with brain injury?

Absolutely. Mary Free Bed is the only inpatient rehabilitation provider in West Michigan with a designated pediatrics unit. We have staff and spaces dedicated exclusively to treating young patients, both as inpatients and for followup care. Learn more about our Pediatric Rehabilitation and Therapy program here.

Can I stay overnight in my spouse/partner's room?

Yes. Each private room has a fold-down sofa bed where a spouse or significant other is welcome to spend the night.

If my family member is still in the acute care hospital, how can I get them referred to Mary Free Bed?

Simply remember to “Ask for Mary.” Talk to your discharge planner at the acute care hospital and let them know that you or your family member wants to go to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

Once a referral is made to us, our staff can come to visit and make recommendations regarding the best course for rehabilitation. If you have any questions regarding this, please call our admissions office at 616.840.8370.

What if I don’t need inpatient therapy but need therapy?

We can help with your needs in our outpatient therapy center, whether it’s you coming to us, or us coming to you through our Home and Community Services.

Ask for Mary