Making Progress

Certified, comprehensive brain injury rehab paves way to recovery.

Jesse Gath was having a typical day at school in 2018 when his entire world suddenly went awry.

Jesse has come a long way since brain surgery with the help of rehabilitation at Encompass Health.

“My nose started bleeding and I got a headache, so I went home,” recalls Jesse, 22. “I took some medicine, but it didn’t help at all. Then I tried to eat something, but I kept missing my mouth. That’s when I knew something was definitely wrong.”

Alarmed, Jesse’s mother, Teresa, took him to the hospital in Gainesville, where Jesse underwent surgery to remove an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, an abnormal tangle of blood vessels that interrupts blood flow in the brain. During the procedure, a shunt was placed in Jesse’s brain to drain excess fluid.

Following a six-week stay in the intensive care unit, Jesse left the hospital in a wheelchair unable to speak.
He needed intense rehabilitation to regain function of his limbs and voice. He chose Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Treasure Coast in Vero Beach for his care.

Managing the Complex

Encompass Health was the perfect place for Jesse. It is certified in brain injury rehabilitation and has a comprehensive program that encourages maximum recovery following traumatic brain injury leading to restored connections and renewed hope.

“Jesse was referred to us when he was still in the ICU,” informs Dawn Bucaj, RN, BSN, senior rehab liaison at Encompass Health. “The earlier a patient is referred to us the better. The referral can come from the patient’s advocate, which can be a family member, friend, caretaker or, as it was with Jesse, a case manager at the hospital.

“When Jesse arrived, he received a care plan initiated by our multidisciplinary team consisting of physicians, rehab-trained registered nurses, case managers and therapists. Physical, speech and occupational therapists worked with Jesse for three hours a day in small increments based on his level of ability.

“I loved it at Encompass Health. It’s one of my favorite places.”-Jesse

“In addition, a physiatrist and primary care physician visited Jesse daily to monitor and treat his coexisting medical conditions. Because we are a hospital, we can manage high-acuity patients who have the most complex medical diagnoses, like Jesse.”

The brain injury program at Encompass Health includes physical, cognitive and psychosocial therapies. Treatments are aimed at regaining function, managing behavior and reentering the community.

“Our program helps patients with brain injuries find their way back to independence for a higher quality of life,” Dawn observes. “Our daily physician visits, round-the-clock registered nursing care and experienced therapists guide patients in reaching their goals for a quicker return home. Many brain injury patients improve within a few days to a few weeks.”

Repeat Performance

“I loved it at Encompass Health,” Jesse enthuses. “It’s one of my favorite places. I really liked the doctors and employees. It was nice to work with people like that. And the food was really good. I would definitely go back to Encompass Health if I had to.”

Unfortunately, he had to.

“He returned this past September because the shunt in his head to drain the fluid became infected and had to be replaced,” Teresa reports. “He was in the hospital for two weeks and then went to Encompass Health.”

Jesse continues to receive physical, occupational and speech therapy at home. With this support, Teresa and Jesse have hope for his ongoing recovery.

“I love the people at Encompass Health for how much they’ve helped Jesse and continue to help him,” Teresa says. “He’s definitely come a long way and is still improving.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. FHCN file photo. mkb
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