The Brain Injury Continuum of Care provides treatment services for individuals with brain injuries. The continuum consists of both inpatient care and outpatient clinics. There is a close collaboration and overlap of professional staff across different programs, and ongoing discussion and evaluation with regards to the level of care needed by persons served.

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Who is treated in the Brain Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger?

During fiscal year 2018*, 54 patients with traumatic or non-traumatic brain injury were treated by the Brain Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger. 

Below is the age breakdown of those patients:

A pie chart depicting the age breakdown of patients treated in the Brain Injury Inpatient Program at Kennedy Krieger

Diagnoses Treated

The Brain Injury Program treats children and adolescents who, collectively, have a variety of diagnoses. 

Below is a breakdown of the most common diagnoses treated by the Brain Injury Program:


Types of Patients Treated

Patients who are admitted to the Brain Injury program have limitations in at least one of the following areas: communication (understanding and speaking), moving around, performing daily self-care activities, engaging in activities of daily living (doing chores, eating), and participating in home, school and community activities.

  • Patients who are admitted to the Brain Injury program must be medically stable and able to participate in at least three hours of therapy per day.
  • Patients with tracheostomies and those requiring mechanical ventilation or diaphragm pacing systems are welcome on the inpatient unit.

Interdisciplinary Treatment Team

Patients with brain injury may have complex needs. An experienced interdisciplinary treatment team works with every patient and his or her family. 

This inpatient team may include:

  • Assistive technology professionals
  • Behavioral psychologists
  • Child life therapists
  • Developmental pediatricians
  • Hospitalists
  • Neurologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Nurse care managers
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurse technicians
  • Nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Pediatric nutritionists
  • Pediatricians
  • Physiatrists
  • Physical therapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Seating and mobility specialists
  • Social workers
  • Special educators
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Therapeutic recreation therapists

Where do patients live who are seen by the inpatient Brain Injury Program?

The majority of patients for the inpatient Brain Injury program are from Maryland. Many also travel from across the United States or internationally to receive treatment. Over the past 5 years, patients have come from 12 different states and 2 percent of the patients were international.

How much therapy do patients receive while being treated in the Brain Injury Program?

Patients being treated in the inpatient Brain Injury program have at least three hours of therapy daily.

What happens if a patient gets acutely sick or has a medical emergency while an inpatient at Kennedy Krieger?

Kennedy Krieger has Advanced Life Support-certified medical staff members and nurses on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the equipment and processes in place to respond to medical emergencies. Due to our proximity to and affiliation with The Johns Hopkins Hospital, we are able to admit patients with intensive, but stable medical needs, such as those requiring a ventilator for breathing.

Occasionally, these more intensive medical needs require unplanned transfers to acute care.  In fiscal year 2018*, 10 patients in the inpatient Brain Injury Program required an unplanned transfer to an acute care setting.

How are patients and their families involved in the care they receive from the inpatient Brain Injury Program?

No one knows a patient better than his or her family. Kennedy Krieger providers are committed to incorporating family-centered care. The best way to care for a patient is to include his or her family in the patient’s healthcare team. Family members are encouraged to participate in treatment planning, goal setting, family meetings, and education and training sessions.

How long do most inpatients receive treatment from the Brain Injury Program?

Not everyone receives treatment for the same amount of time. In fiscal year 2018*, the average length of stay on the inpatient unit for all patients with brain injury was 32 days. These lengths of stays are similar to the length of stays at other similar pediatric rehabilitation hospitals nationwide.

What kinds of improvements might patients receiving treatment from the Brain Injury Program be expected to make?

Kennedy Krieger Institute uses The Functional Independence Measure for Children (WeeFIM) for standardized pediatric outcomes measurement. This system is used by pediatric inpatient, outpatient, and community-based rehab programs worldwide and provides a simple, consistent, uniform tool that measures function in children.

Patients made improvements in their self-care skills and mobility skills that were similar or exceeded improvements made at other pediatric rehabilitation hospitals nationwide. Below is data for fiscal years 17 and 18. 

A bar graph depicting the improvements made by patients of the Inpatient Brain Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger

During fiscal year 2018*:

  • 86 percent of patients reached or exceeded their rehabilitation goals during their inpatient stay
  • Our patients had significant gains on all WeeFIM measurements from admission to discharge
  • Our patients had an average change on their WeeFIM of 23 points between admission and discharge Our patients had continued significant gains in the 3 months following discharge from rehab.
  • Our patients with traumatic brain injury experienced a slightly greater change in WeeFIM score change (35.6 points) compared to those in similar pediatric rehabilitation facilities (34.9 points)
  • More of our patients with traumatic brain injury are discharged home (95 percent) than those in similar pediatric rehabilitation hospitals (91 percent).
  • Of those who were not discharged directly home, all went home after additional planned follow-up at other facilities

What do patients and their families say about their experience at Kennedy Krieger Institute?

  • 94 percent of parents said the management of their child’s pain was average, good or excellent
  • 97 percent of parents said the safety of their child was good or excellent
  • 98 percent of parents said the overall services provided were average, good or excellent
  • 92 percent of parents said the care provided by doctors and nurses was good or excellent.

Does Kennedy Krieger have special accreditation?

Kennedy Krieger Institute is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and The Joint Commission. Every three years, both organizations review the Institute to ensure all its programs meet or exceed the very high standards it sets for the care of its patients.

*Fiscal year 2018 is the time frame from July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.