Hospital Recognized as Providing Higher Standard of Service to Brain Injury Patients

First in New Braunfels to earn Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission

Canyon Lake native, Shelley Cobb, experienced one of the worst – and one of the better — moments of her life last summer. Her worst was when a motorcycle accident left her with significant disabilities caused by a traumatic brain injury. However, that was followed by a better moment when she recovered enough to attend her daughter Renay’s wedding – which was held at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, where Cobb was receiving treatment.

“I didn’t think I was going to see Renay get married,” Cobb says. “The accident put me in a coma, and when I came out of it, I couldn’t speak, walk or even feed myself. That’s when I was transferred to New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.”

After six weeks of treatment and therapy at the hospital, Cobb sat in the front row and watched Renay walk down the aisle. She even danced a little during the reception. “It’s a day I’ll always be thankful for,” she says.

More than a year later, Cobb says she’s still thankful. “It’s amazing,” she says. “I’m not only back to doing everything I was able to do pre-accident, but I’m doing more. I’ve made a big lifestyle change and now run almost every day on the treadmill at the gym.”

Cobb is one of numerous patients who have received rehabilitation at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital following a brain injury. The hospital recently became the first in New Braunfels to earn The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for brain injury rehabilitation. Certification is voluntary and given after a rigorous on-site review of the hospital’s practices, programs, and outcomes in treating brain injury patients.

“We take our responsibility to providing the highest quality of brain injury rehabilitation to the community very seriously.” says Kara Adams, Director of Patient Outcomes at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “We know that rehabilitation following this type of injury can enhance a patient’s recovery process and minimize disabilities. It has a large effect on the patient’s ongoing quality of life.”

At New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, a multi-disciplinary team provides treatments that include physical, speech and occupational therapy; dysphagia management; brain injury education; neuropsychology counseling; home evaluations; caregiver training; home health services; community reintegration; and more.

“The physical, cognitive, and psychological effects of brain injuries vary, so early treatment is important in recovery,” says Dr. Maria Lomba, Medical Director of New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “Treatment can help with immediate needs like eating and swallowing issues, while meeting long-term needs as well. Long-term needs can include memory, problem-solving, motor skill, social and behavioral issues. We want to help our patients reach the highest level of independence and productivity so they can go home and return to as normal of a life as possible.”

Lomba says that an important part of treatment for all brain injury patients is community reintegration. This is where patients are put in real-life situations under the guidance of healthcare professionals so they can learn to successfully navigate everyday situations and be prepared when they are on their own.

When Cobb was a patient at the hospital, a large part of her community reintegration treatment focused on activities to prepare for her daughter’s wedding.

“I didn’t want to miss out on these events that were important to my daughter,” she says. “I went to the jewelry store with Renay to get her ring cleaned before the wedding, and we had our nails done together. I practiced standing and walking, and even tried a bit of dancing.”

In addition to wedding-related activities, the hospital staff also took Cobb to a grocery store as part of her community reintegration. There, she shopped from a list to practice for when she returned home. Before she was discharged, the staff also evaluated her house to ensure her safety.

“Living with a brain injury can be a life changing event for survivors and their family members,” Lomba says. “That’s why we’ve gone the extra mile to earn The Joint Commission’s certification and provide better outcomes for our patients. We want to offer hope and quality of life to our community members who have experienced brain injuries. For many, it’s their only chance at returning back to families, friends and daily routines.”