Beyond Stroke Care: The Role of the MidAmerica Stroke Network in Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries 
In operation since 2008, the MidAmerica Stroke Network (MASN) is known for promoting quality stroke measures throughout the region. Yet, the Network’s name is somewhat misleading. That’s because the MASN’s reach extends well beyond advanced stroke care to include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Traumatic Brain Injuries

TBIs have received a great deal of media attention recently, particularly with sports like football, boxing, cycling, skiing, and soccer, as well as the recent Winter Olympic Games. However, TBIs are not just limited to sports. The leading causes of TBIs include motor vehicle accidents, simple falls and physical assault, as well as sports injuries.

TBI is a serious public health problem in the United States, contributing to a significant number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1.7 million TBIs occur in the U.S. every year. TBI is a contributing factor to one-third (30.5 percent) of all injury-related deaths in the U.S.

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI may be mild, moderate or severe. Mild cases may result in a brief change in mental state or consciousness, while severe cases may include extended periods of unconsciousness, coma or even death.

TBI Patient Saved by the MASN

In the case of a severe TBI, prompt medical attention is critical to help minimize the risk of permanent brain damage. That’s because pressure in the brain tends to increase following a brain injury, which can cause significant damage. That was the case with Sandy Kertz, who sustained a major TBI after falling backwards down a flight of stairs. Her case required life-saving, emergency brain surgery.

Fortunately for Sandy, the emergency medicine physician who initially treated her recognized the extent of her TBI and employed a valuable network to transfer Sandy so she could get the advanced medical care she so desperately needed. That network was the MASN.

MASN and TBIs: By the Numbers

Sandy is just one of many TBI cases transferred to Saint Louis University Hospital through the MASN in the past few years. In fact, in the last three years – 2011, 2012 and 2013 – the hospital has accepted approximately 1,175 transfers of TBI cases from 65 hospitals across the region in Missouri and Illinois. That’s an average of 391 TBI transfers per year and 1.07 TBI transfers per day.

The MASN has established its value by advancing stroke care measures throughout the region. With its expertise expanding to include treatment for TBIs, the Network is poised to positively impact neurological care as well.

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