Patient Care

New Advanced Brain Injury Rehab Unit Opens at Strong Memorial Hospital

Dec. 18, 2023

Updated: April 18, 2024
UR Medicine has opened a new state-of-the-art unit that provides comprehensive rehabilitation and support services for patients recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and other types of acute acquired brain injuries. The Acute Brain Injury NeuroRehabilitation Unit meets a regional need for these services and is integrated into the hospital’s leading trauma, surgical, and intensive care programs, providing a continuum of care designed to help patients recover function and independence.

acute brain injury rehabilitation unit

“The unit is physically designed to appropriately manage patients with cognitive and behavioral deficits and accounts for the clinical, physical, cognitive, communication, and nutritional conditions necessary to create an optimal environment for the brain to heal,” said Heather Ma, MD, a brain injury rehabilitation medicine specialist and assistant professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Ma is division chief of UR Medicine’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Medicine service line and is interim medical director and division chief of Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Medicine. “The staff are uniquely qualified to guide recovery, help patients improve or maintain function, and improve overall health and quality of life after an acute brain injury.”

“This new unit strengthens our ability to provide integrated and coordinated care for cognitively impaired brain injury patients,” said Rajeev Patel, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. “Keeping these patients here at Strong Memorial allows easier coordination of care with their acute care physicians who, in many cases, are only a floor away. Our unique service line model allows for our brain injury rehabilitation medicine physicians to provide continuity of care from acute floor consultation, admission and medical management on our new brain injury unit, and follow-up in the outpatient clinic setting after discharge.”

The Highest Level of Rehabilitation Medicine

The $7 million, 11-bed Acute Brain Injury NeuroRehabilitation Unit, located in 6-1200 at Strong Memorial Hospital, meets the complex needs of adult and pediatric patients recovering from traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, stroke, or other acquired brain injuries.

Desiree's Story
A former patient and current employee at Strong Memorial Hospital, Desiree received care for an acute brain injury.

The secure unit has private rooms, which can accommodate and involve family members in recovery, and includes safety features specific to patients experiencing cognitive and behavioral problems because of brain injuries.

Led by board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians with expertise in brain injury rehabilitation medicine, the multidisciplinary care team is comprised of rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, recreational therapists, care managers, dietitians, and psychologists. The focus is restoring independence by improving problems with cognition, balance, strength, motor control, vision, swallowing, and other deficits that adversely affect patients' daily lives.

Many patients require some long-term support and rehabilitation, and the team helps patients reintegrate into the community by referring them to local resources once discharged from the hospital, including UR Medicine’s outpatient therapy programs.

Comprehensive and Integrated Care with a Regional Reach

As western New York’s largest and the Rochester region’s only Level 1 trauma facility, Strong Memorial Hospital is a destination for patients from across the upstate that require advanced levels of trauma care. The new Acute Brain Injury Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit further strengthens UR Medicine’s comprehensive system of acute care and recovery for moderate to severe brain injury, which also includes the UR Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center, the Mobile Stroke Unit, and Neuromedicine ICU, and the Kessler Burn and Trauma Center.

Acute Brain Injury NeuroRehabilitation Unit

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s inpatient and outpatient programs are accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation (CARF), a designation that reflects higher patient satisfaction and better outcomes. These programs are among the first in upstate New York to be integrated directly with advanced trauma and stroke care programs. The new unit supplements the existing 20-bed Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital, increasing total acute inpatient rehabilitation beds at the hospital to 31.

“The Acute Brain Injury Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit adds much needed acute rehab beds to our community and expands UR Medicine’s capacity to deliver advanced and integrated care to trauma and stroke patients who come to us from our affiliates and other hospitals in the region,” said Kathy Parrinello, chief operating officer of Strong Memorial Hospital.