Traumatic Brain Injury Program
The Traumatic Brain Injury Program at Children’s Oakland provides comprehensive acute and follow-up care to children diagnosed with mild to very severe traumatic brain injury. As a regional trauma center, we care for children with brain injuries from throughout Northern California and beyond—providing leading-edge care for hundreds of children diagnosed with brain injuries each year. Regardless of severity, acquired head injuries can impact a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. We offer specialized rehabilitation treatment to address the needs of virtually every type, stage, and level of brain injury in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Our Team Approach to Caring for Brain Injury
Our Traumatic Brain Injury Program integrates care across several specialties—including Trauma Services, Rehabilitation, Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Neuropsychology—to maximize the health and well-being of patients, minimize distress, and prevent long-term difficulties.
Personalized Care Understanding brain injuries and rehabilitation can be overwhelming. We welcome and encourage family involvement and offer information and support. Each child’s care team tailors a plan to help the child regain the skills they had before the injury, and teaches them how to compensate for any loss of skills. We also work with the child to teach new ways of learning.
Leading the Way with Research
The Traumatic Brain Injury Program is helping to define best practices in caring for children with brain injuries, from initial treatment in our Emergency Department and Trauma Center through inpatient care and long-term follow-up. We are active in the development of research protocols to increase the knowledge base and evaluate the effectiveness of current management tools for children who have experienced brain injury.
Hypertonicity Management Program
Hypertonicity (increased muscle tone) may affect children with neurological disorders. We recognize the complicated nature of hypertonicity and provide a specialized multidisciplinary clinic in which patients see several pediatric specialists, including physiatrists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurse practitioners, and social workers, during one appointment, in one location. During the clinic session, the team extensively evaluates the health of each child and offers the family comprehensive recommendations.
Hypertonicity Treatment Options
Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:
- Selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery
- Intrathecal baclofen pump placement
- Orthopedic surgery
- Botox injections
- Oral medications
- Orthoses and other equipment
- Specialized therapies
Spina Bifida Program
The Spina Bifida Program at Children’s Oakland is a multidisciplinary program providing comprehensive treatment for infants through teens with congenital neural tube and spinal cord disorders. Our program provides continuity of care for children with these disorders, bridging the gap between primary and specialty care and providing a vital link to available medical and support services. The team includes pediatric specialists from Physiatry, Neurosurgery, Urology, Orthopedics, Occupational Therapy, Therapy, Nursing, and Clinical Social Work. The focus of our team is to evaluate each child’s situation and work with the family to develop medical, surgical/procedural, and therapeutic plans to maximize the child’s functional abilities. Our team works closely with community providers and also assists with referrals to other specialty services as needed. Our key team objective is to provide comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated care.
Spina Bifida Treatments & Diagnoses
- Botox Therapy
Some children benefit from Botox injections to treat muscles with focused increased tightness to reduce pain, increase function, and improve caregiver ease.
- Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy
Intrathecal baclofen treatment for extensive muscle tightness uses a surgically implanted programmable pump and catheter to deliver precise amounts of baclofen directly to the intrathecal space that surrounds the spinal cord. It limits or eliminates the undesirable side effects associated with taking oral medications for spasticity. Delivering a consistent drug dose throughout the day, the pump allows a patient to avoid the peaks and valleys of taking oral medication. It can be programmed to control the different patterns of spasticity unique to each patient.
Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic tool used in children to see how nerves and muscles are working. EMG records signals moving through the muscles. It involves insertion of a very thin needle electrode (similar to the size of an acupuncture needle) into a few select muscles to record the electrical activity in the muscle. EMG helps with the diagnosis many disorders, including spinal muscular atrophy, brachial plexopathy, neuropathy, and myopathy.
- Nerve Conduction Study
A nerve conduction study is a diagnostic tool used in children to see how nerves are functioning. it involves placing electrodes on the affected body part and sending electrical stimulation through the nerves—allowing the diagnosis of many disorders, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, botulism, and mononeuropathies.
- Vitalstim® For Dysphagia
Vitalstim® is used in conjunction with speech therapy and occupational therapy as a noninvasive, external electrical stimulation therapy for the treatment of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). It involves placing electrodes on a patient’s throat to deliver a small amount of current that stimulates the muscles responsible for swallowing. Combining Vitalstim® and traditional therapy helps to accelerate strengthening, restore function, and remap the brain’s control of the swallow mechanism.