Conditions that affect the human brain are numerous and include vascular disorders (stroke and hemorrhage), trauma, infections, tumors, lack of oxygen and disease (Parkinson’s, CP, ALS, Alzheimer’s, MS and others). Medical science is aggressively exploring the molecular and cellular basis of the brain’s anatomy, function and capacity to repair itself (plasticity).
We’re focusing on the combined application of the most promising science and therapies for recovery of the whole brain, rather than limiting our attention and care to a specific disease or cause, which is the traditional approach. We are leveraging emerging brain and neural-science research and applying it to impairment in patients across the spectrum of brain injuries.
Patients with injury to the brain are challenged with similar problems and functional losses, regardless of the specific cause. From an observational perspective, patients with brain conditions often appear the same physically and functionally, though they may have very different diagnoses. As a result, the rehabilitation course for patients with brain disorders tends to require similar nursing and therapeutic focus.
We also know that aggregating patients with various forms of brain impairment in a unified care and research structure allows us to influence recovery of the greatest number of patients. This aggregation also allows us to sharpen our knowledge and expertise on an ongoing basis. Our process means that we are continually fostering increasingly better recoveries for patients.
In the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the Brain Innovation Center includes three floors (23-25) of inpatient care, with more than 100 beds, and accommodates patients with diverse brain conditions and medical needs. The entire Center is the largest of the AbilityLab’s Innovation Centers in patient volume and staffing. This Center’s focus is on promoting brain healing and recovery, and offers the world’s best in medical and nursing care, diagnostic support and translational neuroscience research.
The top floor of the Brain Innovation Center is dedicated to medical/nursing support of patients with the most severe and fragile conditions affecting fundamental brain functions (e.g., arousal, lucidity, awareness, sensory, perception, motivation, information-processing/thinking, communication, memory and learning). This floor provides a calming/non-distracting environment to facilitate brain healing. Even the unique walls on this floor — which are curved — are acoustically designed to dampen sound.
Research activity includes pharmacotherapeutic applications, brain neuromodulation using external or implanted brain stimulators, use of smart devices and emerging technologies, and the potential application of biologic materials and therapies specific for neural action. In the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Brain Innovation Center, we continue actively pursuing research and application in promising, potentially groundbreaking, interventions such as regenerative medicine.