New BRAINS program helps those with head injuries

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"She was sitting on the back of a car that was parked at the skate park and the driver hit the gas and she fell off and hit her head, Angie Moggs explains. Her daughter, Danika Vaughan, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Danika says, "I remember getting on the back of the car just to sit there and I don't remember falling off."

Fifteen-year-old Danika who suffered the traumatic brain injury in May, was flown from Prescott Valley to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center where she spent 12 days in the intensive care unit.

Angie admits, "I would have rather had her break both legs then have a head bleed."

Dr. Javier Cardenas, St. Joe's child neurologist explains, "She had some significant headaches that went along, which is common in post concussive head injury, but fortunately she did not suffer any deficits to paralysis. She did not have any speech problems or memory problems, but some of that will be able to evaluate today." Dr. Danika is just one of the 1.5 million Americans who suffer from a traumatic brain injury each year. While her prognosis has been better than some, she still needs help.

Angie reveals, "When you leave the hospital, you're like 'What do I do now? So it's one place to go, one stop to make and you can get all of your needs met in one period of time.

Danika's mom is talking about the brand new Brains Program at the hospital. It stands for Barrow Resource for Acquired Injury to the Nervous System.

Dr. Cardenas says, "Because so many people with brain injuries can have so many problems, such as difficulty with memory, difficulty in school, difficulty in sleep, difficulty with movement, we've now decided to bring everyone together."

Besides seeing the doctor, Danika can also meet with a neuropsychologist, a prevention specialist and even someone from the Brain Injury Association of Arizona all under one roof. Dr. Cardenas says, "The fact that we're in one place, we can communicate quite readily about what's best for the patient. What they need and the fact that the patient has a home to come to, a place where they have all their needs met."

Now something that doctor Cardenas says sets the brains program apart from other programs in the nation is their education component. They have partnered up with Arizona State University's college of teacher education and leadership.

Dr. Cardenas explains, "Sometimes a brain injury is not recognized. They might hit their head, get up and seem ok and they're fine until they go into an academic setting where they're challenged and have problems sitting still or with behavior."

This is where Gina Warren comes in. She will work with the family and the school as needed on a case by case basis. Danika admits, "I think it's really helpful because like them understanding me from my point of view, they might not think it's that bad and they wouldn't understand, so it's really helpful."

Angie adds, "We have hurdles we have to overcome. We're aware of it. We have resources to go to and I think it's going to make her a successful person as she grows up."

The Brains Program is open to children and adults. They have an open house next month. For more information go to St. Joseph's Hospital.