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Rehabilitation Outcomes for Veterans with Polytrauma Treated at the Tampa VA

Authors

  • Kris Siddharthan PhD,

    Health Services Researcher, Corresponding author
    1. VISN8 Patient Safety Center of Inquiry at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in Tampa, FL
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  • Steven Scott MD,

    Chief, Director
    1. Physical medicine and rehabilitation service and level 1 polytrauma center at the James A. Haley VAMC in Tampa, FL
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  • Elizabeth Bass PhD,

    Health Economist, Assistant Professor
    1. Patient Safety Center of Inquiry at the James A. Haley VAMC in Tampa, FL
    2. School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida
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  • Audrey Nelson PhD RN FAAN

    Director, Associate Director
    1. Patient Safety Center of Inquiry at the James A. Haley VAMC in Tampa, FL
    2. Research in the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida
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kris.siddharthan@med.va.gov.

Abstract

Returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan who have sustained polytrauma have a combination of complex physical and mental morbidities that require extensive therapy and rehabilitation. This study examined the effect of rehabilitation on 116 polytrauma patients with service-connected injuries treated at the Tampa VA; improvements in functional and cognitive abilities were measured using the Functional Independence Measure (FIM™) scores and healthcare costs for rehabilitation treatment were also assessed. Intensive rehabilitation therapy increased functional ability in this cohort with an average improvement in total FIM scores of 23 points. Total inpatient costs for these patients exceeded $4 million in approximately 3 years. Rehabilitation nurses face challenges providing quality care to this target patient population, including characterizing war-related polytrauma, providing surveillance, coordinating care, synchronizing care for patients with multiple injuries, and conducting evidence-based pain management.

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