Independence Way is the name of the new traumatic brain injury (TBI) rehabilitation unit at the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Opened last October, it is the first of its kind at any VA hospital and trains veterans with TBI for re-entering community life. Patients can use the simulated cash machine (dispenses fake money), Metro turnstile and a convenience store to accomplish the tasks of everyday life. The TBI caseload at the VA hospital is approximately 200 patients.
The goal of Independence Way is to maximize the patients’ independence in a semi-controlled setting. Therapists can increase the difficulty of the therapy by adding distractions at the cash machine or by radically changing the price of a grocery item in the convenience store. Patients will ideally notice the small details and make the proper adjustments on their own.
Another area of the unit features a curb, a gate with a combination lock and some uneven turf leading to a front door. The uneven turf helps train patients with vision and balance issues, as well as patients with artificial legs. Small tasks such as unlocking a door or using a door knock can take patients weeks to learn.
Patients also have access to a laundry area and a full kitchen equipped with a coffee maker, stove and microwave ovens. Ideally, patients can learn to prepare a meal by following a recipe, measuring ingredients and remembering to turn off the oven.
Brain injuries can permanently alter the victim’s life as well as the lives of their loved ones. If a TBI is due to another person’s negligence, a Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation. Contact David Schloss, a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot.