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Today NRH

A MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Publication

Celebrating Heroes Triumphant Triathlon

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Also inside: Unique Aphasia Clinic Opens >>Page 6 MedStar NRH Ranked Among the Best >>Page 9 Pediatric Brain Injury Program >>Page 10 Calling All Runners! >>Page 12

Fall 2012


President’s Message

The Value of the System Pick up a paper or open your browser’s news headlines and you will no doubt read something about America’s health care industry—and see references to integrated health care systems. Earlier this year, MedStar NRH introduced our new name, and told you about our long time membership in the region’s largest integrated health care system, MedStar Health. But what does that really mean for you as a health care consumer? John D. Rockwood

Welcoming Southern Maryland Hospital Center This past July, MedStar Health announced that Southern Maryland Hospital Center (SMHC), located in Clinton, Md., will soon become the newest member of the regional health care system. MedStar NRH has been a member of the system since its beginnings. SMHC will be MedStar’s 10th hospital and its 7th in the state of Maryland. SMHC serves Prince George’s County and the Southern Maryland peninsula, and is a thriving, 238-bed acute care medical center, providing more than 17,000 inpatient admissions and 65,000 emergency visits annually.

The facts are simple enough: MedStar Health is a not-for-profit, regional healthcare system with a network of 10 hospitals and 20 other health-related businesses across the Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC, region. I can easily tick off the statistics: 27,000 associates and nearly 6,000 affiliated physicians, a half-million patients annually, more than 163,000 inpatient admissions and more than 2 million outpatient visits each year. But the true impact of the MedStar Health system is best illustrated by our patients’ experiences. One recent patient’s story truly demonstrates the positive impact of care delivered through an integrated system.

Continuum of Care Last summer, Gary Willis suffered a stroke while riding his bike on a road near his St. Inigoes, Md., home. Fortunately, a passerby saw Willis and called for help, and an ambulance quickly transported him to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in the close by community of Leonardtown, Md. MedStar St. Mary’s is an acute care facility and a certified primary stroke center. That means a rapid stroke response team is available 24-hours a day to evaluate any potential stroke patients within minutes of arrival to the ER so that critical treatment can begin immediately. A CT scan indicated that Willis was having a hemorrhagic stroke that required surgery and more specialized care than MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital could provide. The team consulted with specialists at MedStar


MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

Georgetown University Hospital, and Willis was soon on his way there, where neurosurgeons were waiting. When Willis recovered from surgery, he spent two weeks at MedStar NRH for inpatient stroke rehabilitation. And he continued to receive outpatient therapy at St. Mary’s once he returned home. Today he is swimming, riding a stationary bike and lifting weights so he can get back into his “pre-stroke” condition. This kind of continuity of care fosters better outcomes for patients and helps guarantee a consistent level of quality services from diagnosis through discharge no matter the setting. At MedStar Health, we are instituting protocols of care by diagnoses to help ensure that every patient at each member hospital receives the same high level of services. And we are improving methods of sharing information across the system so that medical staff can quickly access a patient’s medical record from any MedStar Health facility. This shift away from operating in silos toward a far more coordinated system of care delivery enhances patient care. It’s a connected, seamless approach, which is also cost effective. And we all understand how critical it is today to use increasingly limited health care dollars wisely. We’re breaking down other silos as well, through collaborative approaches to research and education. In the coming months and years, MedStar NRH will continue to create strong partnerships with other MedStar Health facilities to foster improved health care delivery all across the region.

Adding Life to Years® — Helping You Live a Full and Healthy Life

The Ultimate “Power Lunch” Summer is over, kids are heading back to school and mom and dad are back at work. That last minute beach vacation has become digital memories. Falling back into the autumn routine can also mean falling off a healthy, fresh summer diet. The problem of “what to pack for lunch” is looming and with our hectic schedules, we may all become vulnerable to “grab what you can” eating.

“The best way to prevent that from happening is through meal planning,” says Chelsey Smardo, RD, LD, clinical nutrition and patient services manager at MedStar NRH. “With a bit of preparation you and your family are less likely to be tempted to eat fast—fatty—foods.” Smardo says that there is good news for parents whose children eat in their school cafeterias. “The National School Lunch Program has made it mandatory for meals in public schools to meet nutritional standards,” she explains. “Lunches must be balanced with no more than 30 percent of calories from fat, and 10 percent from saturated fat. School lunches should also provide a third of the daily requirements for nutrients such as Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and of calories. “But some kids eat from the à la carte menu and they have other temptations all around them,” Smardo adds. “The best way to ensure that your kids make healthy food choices is to set a good example,” she says. “And involve your children in the meal planning. Look over the month’s school menu together, and talk about healthy choices. And if you are packing lunch for the kids, take them with you to the grocery store and help them make selections for the week.” To help ensure

your children eat healthy during the school day, Smardo offers these tips: n


If refrigeration isn’t available at school, make sure you choose foods that are “self stable” and can stay at room temperature—avoid perishable items, such as dairy foods, unless you use an insulated bag.  ake sure you pack a source of protein, M as well as a fruit and vegetable serving, and stick to whole grain breads.


 ack 100 percent fruit juices, with no P sugar added.


Choose plain milk, not chocolate flavored.


 ary what you pack from day-to-day to V stave off boredom.


 elect prepackaged lunches, but add S whole fruit or cut up veggies if these are lacking.


 or after school munchies have fresh F cut up veggies, fruit salad and low-fat yogurt in the refrigerator, and whole fruit, raw nuts and seeds on the kitchen counter within reach.

Parents can benefit from the same advice, Smardo says. “But there are other pitfalls throughout the work day,” she adds. Here

MedStar NRH Nutrition Outpatient Services A new outpatient service at MedStar NRH can help you learn to eat healthier. If you want to lose weight, change your diet to prevent illness, or to help control a chronic disease, such as high cholesterol, reflux, cancer or irritable bowel, a registered dietitian can develop a personalized dietary plan to help you meet your goal.

are some tips to keep you on a healthy daytime diet routine: n

 ack some healthy snacks to nibble P on in mid morning, so the fried onion rings won’t tempt you at lunch.


 void creamy dressings at the salad A bar, steer clear of noodle salads with mayo, and limit the cheese to one serving—the size of your thumb.


 ill your plate with a rainbow of colors F including peppers, dark leafy greens, and tomatoes.


 hoose whole grain sandwich breads C with low fat meats like chicken and turkey; remove the cheese from your sub to save about 100 calories; substitute mayo with mustard.


 ut down on sugary sodas and juices C in favor of water flavored with cucumber slices and mint or lemon wedges; coffee is just fine, but use skim milk, and replace processed sugar with raw sugar, agave, honey or sugar substitutes.

Finally, Smardo encourages families to make healthy eating an adventure. “Ask the kids to pick out the weirdest fruit or vegetable they can find on the grocery shelf—think star fruit or papaya. Then go home, do some research and cook it up together! Or, try any one of dozens of interesting combos to create your family’s own signature smoothie. In my house, we mix up a green concoction with spinach, frozen fruit, and skim milk—and it’s a big hit.”

To learn more about MedStar NRH’s Outpatient Nutrition Program, contact Chelsey Smardo at 202-877-1890. To schedule an appointment, call 202-877-1440.

NRH Today • Fall 2012


Triumphant Triathlon! More than 1,000 competitors tested their mettle at MedStar NRH’s first annual Celebrating Heroes Triathlon on June 24. The race—the East Coast’s first-ever triathlon open to physically challenged and able-bodied athletes—attracted 1,200 registered athletes and several thousand spectators who lined the course to cheer the athletes on, as the bright yellow MedStar Transport helicopter made a majestic fly by. Nearly 500 volunteers from the community and Team NRH operated the medical booth, served as course marshals or medal distributors at the finish line—and helped ensure that the day was exciting, inspirational and safe.

“Playing sports offers health benefits, builds self confidence and provides opportunity for individuals to participate and compete. MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is determined to have any individual who wants to play sports have that opportunity.” John Rockwood, President

Triumphant race finishers Harry "Super H" Freedman with MedStar NRH President John Rockwood


MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

TriColumbia, the region’s premier non-profit organization that produces endurance events, organized the race. Founded in 1983 by Triathlon Champion Robert Vigorito, TriColumbia supports community groups through direct contributions, and by providing

fundraising team racing opportunities for organizations like MedStar NRH. Celebrating Heroes was a sprint, the easiest form of triathlon, which consisted of a .68 swim in Centennial Lake, a 17.5-mile bike race, and 3.4 mile run in the Howard County, Md., countryside. Individual athletes competed, as well as three-person relay teams in which paratriathletes and able-bodied athletes were matched with one another, each competing in their strongest event. Media partner NBC4 (WRC TV) promoted the event and participated with four teams of the station’s talent, including Veronica Johnson, NBC4 meteorologist, who called the event “inspiring.” “The day demonstrates that you can fight back against the adversities in life,” she says. “Seeing some of the hero participants doing some of the extremely challenging events is a fitting example of the human spirit.” Among the participating challenged athletes was Chase Baker—a long-time triathlete who won the ITU World Championship in 2000, and completed the toughest triathlon test, the Ironman, in 2004. Baker, who won the Celebrating Heroes Class 5 Division, lost a leg when he was a high school senior, but has never let his physical challenges stop him.

“I have been a competitive swimmer since the age of five. I played football and did some track and soccer as a kid,” says Baker. “I believe sports are great for anyone—especially the physically challenged. This triathlon was a great event and I’m sure to be back.” Planning is already underway for next year’s race scheduled for June 23, 2013. “We hope to double the number of competitors next year and make this one of the nation’s most competitive triathlons,” says John Rockwood, president of MedStar NRH, and a Celebrating Heroes finisher. “This is a great race for all athletes. At MedStar NRH we believe that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence, and enhances the quality of life.”

Celebrating Heroes Final Results  op Overall Male Finisher: T Benjamin Winterroth n Top Overall Female Finisher: Hilary Cairns n Top Relay Team Finisher: Team NBC Peacocks n Top Physically Challenged Open Division Finisher: James Banks n

For full results, log on to

NBC4 meteorologist Veronica Johnson (center) celebrates at the finish line with MedStar NRH Team Members Robert Hartmann (left) and Paul Rao (right). Photos by Susan J. Clark and Alfredo Flores

NRH Today • Fall 2012


Finding the Right Words:

MedStar NRH Aphasia Clinic Breaks New Ground While Christie Arnold slept soundly, a dangerous blood clot burst in her brain. Her body convulsed in seizures, waking her husband Christopher. He knew instantly that his wife was in serious trouble and quickly dialed 911. Arnold has no memory of the event that changed her life—and had no inkling that at just 30 she would experience a dangerous stroke called a venous sinus thromobosis. “I was a healthy young woman,” she says today. “And suddenly I was critically ill. Surgeons had to remove part of my skull to relieve pressure from my swelling brain. I spent six months in the hospital. When I finally got to MedStar NRH for rehab, I was in a wheelchair and I couldn’t speak.”

from mild to severe—every patient is different and no one therapeutic method is effective for everyone,” she adds. “The best therapy is one that is tailored to the individual, and centered on each person’s goals.”

Arnold was suffering from aphasia, a disorder that affects more than a million Americans. It results from damage to the part of the brain that controls language. Aphasia is most often the result of stroke, but it may result from other brain injury or from brain tumors. People with aphasia may have difficulty with one or more of the functions that are critical to communication: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

That’s the ultimate objective of the newly opened Aphasia Clinic at MedStar NRH. “We’ve developed a unique approach to the evaluation and treatment of aphasia,” Fletcher says. The clinic brings together

Aphasia Clinic’s Unique Collaboration

neurologist who specializes in aphasia diagnosis and evaluation. The hallmark of the clinic’s approach is its comprehensive language and medical evaluation of each participant. This unique collaborative assessment helps the clinic team pinpoint the precise areas of the brain affected by stroke or brain injury, and characterize the type of aphasia clients are experiencing. Speech-language pathologists conduct a thorough speech and language evaluation. Dr. Turkeltaub examines each patient’s brain images and medical records to determine the systems that are affected and the degree of damage that has occurred. “I’m looking at the mechanism of the damage—the neurological aspects of aphasia. This will help paint a more comprehensive picture of each person’s

“At first I kept saying ‘the people’ for almost everything. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t find the right words,” Arnold remembers.

“It’s not a loss of intellect. It’s a deficit in one’s ability to express intelligence through communication,” Fletcher stresses. “When a stroke or other brain injury causes damage to the left side of the brain, important language connections can be disrupted. Aphasia can range


MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

Photos by Ben Sledge/ASHA

“This is one of the common symptoms in people with aphasia,” explains Patty Fletcher, SLP, director of outpatient speech-language pathology at MedStar NRH. “But there are several types of aphasia. Some people with aphasia have trouble understanding spoken or written language. Others can only speak in short phrases, while some form long sentences using unrecognizable words.

Christie Arnold, who suffered a dangerous stroke that caused the language disorder aphasia, continues her recovery at the MedStar NRH Aphasia Clinic.

the expertise of MedStar NRH speechlanguage pathologists Denise Frankoff and Brooke Hatfield, who have extensive experience and training in aphasia, with Peter Turkeltaub, MD, PhD, a nationally recognized cognitive

problem,” says Dr. Turkeltaub. “It’s fairly unique for people with aphasia to be evaluated by a cognitive neurologist,” he adds. “Most people with aphasia will be referred directly to speech-language pathologists. But as a cognitive neurolo-

through the same experience and now have excellent communication skills. The program was the suggestion of a former patient, Thomas Waters, who brought the idea to speech-language pathologists who got it up and running in 2006. The volunteer mentors are all former MedStar NRH patients who receive training by speech-language pathologists before meeting regularly one-on-one with their protégés for conversation and friendship during an eight-week period.

Christie, now a MedStar NRH aphasia mentor, makes a virtual visit to her mentee to practice communication skills and encourage his recovery.

gist, I bring a different perspective, and can sometimes offer additional options for treatment. We can also offer to enroll some people in clinical trials to test whether new treatments for aphasia can help recovery.” The team brings all of this information to the client and they work together to talk about expectations and next steps. The approach puts an emphasis on self-determination, allowing patients to identify their personal goals. “MedStar NRH is the first facility in the region to offer this type of comprehensive care,” Fletcher says. “Aphasia can be very isolating for patients,” she adds. “So we focus on helping clients identify ways to reintegrate themselves into more active lives.” This approach may include one-on-one speech-language therapy targeting each client’s unique language challenges, as well as participation in specialized groups to help them improve communication skills. The groups—everything from a book club to a computer lab group—give people with aphasia an opportunity to practice communication skills with other people who are experiencing aphasia, learn to use research-based strategies and tools to help them communicate more effectively, and boost their confidence.

Mentoring Partnerships More confidence was just what Arnold was looking for after she completed her two-month inpatient stay at MedStar NRH. “When I left the hospital, I walked out,” she says, proudly. “But I was still having speech issues. I wanted to talk with someone who was in the same boat. When I heard about the aphasia mentorship program at MedStar NRH, I knew that was just what I needed.” MedStar NRH’s first-of-its kind in the nation Aphasia Mentorship Program matches people living with aphasia with volunteer mentors who have been

The program gives newly diagnosed patients a safe outlet to share their feelings about what they are experiencing, to practice speaking and gain confidence in their ability to communicate. “I was matched with Lane Taylor,” says Arnold. “We met regularly for more than a year—and he became a friend as well as my mentor. Then I decided I wanted to help, as well, so in 2010, I became a mentor,” she says. “I visit with my mentees in person and sometimes remotely by Skype. And it’s very rewarding to share experiences and to see them gaining confidence.” Lane Taylor says the most important thing about mentoring is helping the mentees stay optimistic and keep looking forward. Arnold is doing just that. “I’ve mentored four people so far,” she says. “I want them to know that if I can do it so can they. And each time, it’s been so gratifying to watch them take back their lives.” But Arnold hasn’t stopped her own therapeutic journey. She recently met with Dr. Turkeltaub for an evaluation. “We’ve learned that people with aphasia can benefit from an assessment and can continue to improve their communication skills even years after their injury,” says Fletcher. To schedule an appointment at the MedStar NRH Aphasia Clinic or for more information on the MedStar NRH Aphasia Mentorship Program, call 202-877-1440.

Wayne Coy, who suffered a serious stroke in 2004, was one of first volunteers for MedStar NRH’s unique Aphasia Mentorship Program.

NRH Today • Fall 2012


Raising the Stakes and Money at Las Vegas Night Four hundred MedStar NRH supporters gathered at the beautiful National Museum of Women in the Arts on

Left to right: MedStar NRH President John Rockwood, Robert Marsteller of the Philanthropy Office, and Board of Associates President Julia Creighton

Friday, April 20, for the third annual Las Vegas Night to benefit the MedStar NRH Network—the largest turnout since the popular event began in 2010. Guests tested their skill and luck at gaming tables featuring Roulette, Black Jack, Texas Hold’em Poker and more games of chance, and enjoyed great food and music in a glittering setting featuring crystal chandeliers, flashing black lights, and stunning Las Vegas “showgirls.” Guests used their winnings to bid on a host of fantastic items, everything from gourmet wine, dinner for 10, weekend getaways, a beautiful Hermés scarf and Lucien Piccard women’s watch. And one lucky winner took home the special raffle prize—Preakness Day at the Races for four with a $2,380 value.

Left to right: MedStar NRH Board Member Samuel Bergman, with Chief Medical Officer Michael Yochelson, MD, MBA, and Amanda Bergman, a member of the Board of Associates Left to right: Members of the Board of Associates Elizabeth Horton, Treazure Johnson and Jennifer Sheehy Keller enjoy the evening.

Below, left to right: Honorary Chair of the evening Carole Randolph with Barbara Ayers, event co-chair

Las Vegas Night Sponsors Double Down GEICO Morrison Healthcare Food Services Premium Distributors Casino Royal Bank of America CPS Gumpert MedStar Health MedStar NRH Medical Staff Nauticon


Lucky 7s Rolyn Companies, Inc. Wheel of Fortune Center Radiology, PC Rafael Convit, MD, FACS Francis and Julia Creighton Joel Jankowsky Marriott Wardman Park Hotel George and Thene Mernick

MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

Full House Wallace Holladay Med3000 MediServe PNC Bank Event Co-chairs Carole Randolph, Honorary Chair Barbara Ayers, Co-chair Janie McNamara, Co-chair Mark E. Richards, MD, Co-chair

Above left to right: Idy Marcus and Janie McNamara, event co-chair

MedStar NRH Tops the Charts! Rising in Rank—MedStar NRH One of the Nation’s Best On July 17, U.S. News & World Report announced the 2012 rankings for Best Hospitals in America. For the 18th consecutive year, MedStar NRH has been ranked by physicians as one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the country. in the Washington Metropolitan Region, which includes D.C., Alexandria and Arlington County, Virginia, and Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland. Usually one doesn’t brag about being in 3rd place, but MedStar NRH is the only specialty hospital on the regional rankings list! In the national rankings of rehabilitation hospitals, MedStar NRH came in at number 11 among all rehab hospitals, and having just celebrated its 25th Anniversary, is the youngest hospital on the list. Additionally, in the U.S. News new regional hospital rankings, MedStar NRH came in third among all 59 hospitals

The magazine recognized just 732 facilities in the U.S. as Best Regional Hospitals from nearly 4,800 hospitals reviewed. The magazine also listed MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital among the top five ‘best’ hospitals in the D.C. region.

for our efforts in providing our patients with high quality health care,” says Michael Yochelson, MD, MBA, MedStar NRH vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer. “This ranking is a testament to the dedication, commitment and experience of our Team Members in the MedStar NRH Network, as well as the support of our community,” he adds. “This recognition inspires us to continue to provide our patients with compassionate care and innovative programs and techniques, which will empower them to lead productive, independent lives.”

“We are very proud to be recognized by our peers in the medical community

MedStar NRH “Top Docs” Recognized Seven physicians from MedStar National Rehabilitation Network appeared in the recent issue of Washingtonian magazine’s Top Doctors: n


 amela Ballard, MD, medical director of P the MedStar NRH Inpatient Spinal Cord Program and chair, Credentials and Professional Standards Committee at MedStar NRH, specializing in spasticity management  obert Bunning, MD, MedStar NRH Network’s R associate medical director for inpatient physiatry, and director of the MedStar NRH Arthritis Program


 ally Evans, MD, first director of the National S Center for Children’s Rehabilitation (NCCR) at MedStar NRH, and chief of the Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Children’s National Medical Center


 athleen Fink, MD, board certified in PM&R K and pain management; practices in MedStar NRH Outpatient Network


 avid Gross, MD, medical director of the D Sleep Center at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, specializing in pulmonology


J ohn Toerge, DO, past medical director of MedStar NRH, specializing in spinal cord injury and sports injuries; practices in MedStar NRH Outpatient Network


 urtis Whitehair, MD, MedStar NRH C Network’s associate medical director for regional physiatry, program director of the MedStar NRH/MedStar Georgetown University Hospital residency program, and director of the MedStar NRH Cancer Rehabilitation Program

The "top doc" on the cover is Alexandros Powers, MD, neurosurgeon on staff at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

NRH Today • Fall 2012


National Center for Children’s Rehabilitation (NCCR) — A Joint Service of MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (MedStar NRH) and Children’s National Medical Center located at MedStar NRH This unique collaboration raises the bar for the care of pediatric patients with neurological and orthopedic injuries and illness. Patients are cared for by pediatric rehabilitation experts in a state-of the-art, child-friendly and secure ninebed unit at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital. NCCR accepts patients between the ages of 6 and 18. Take a virtual tour of MedStar NRH, including NCCR, at

Delaney explores the goodies in her "Brain Bag" — a gift to all brain injured MedStar NRH patients — with Jason De Luigi, DO, MedStar NRH director of Sports Medicine, family friend and "lifesaver."

Saving Delaney

Turning a Near Disaster into a Story of Hope

In May, the Saslav and De Luigi families were enjoying a happy reunion by the pool. The old college friends were living in the same area for the first time since graduation, so they gathered for a day of fun. But the reunion turned into a nightmare when 3-year-old Delaney Saslav nearly drowned. “We called for everyone to get out of the pool for a while,” Delaney’s mom Jill Saslav explains. “But Delaney was upset, snuck back to the pool and fell in.” The De Luigi’s daughter, 5-year-old Cyan, saw the accident and ran for help. Beata De Luigi jumped in and pulled Delaney out of the water, and her husband Jason De Luigi administered CPR. Arthur “Jason” De Luigi, DO, is the director of Sports Medicine at MedStar NRH. “I’ve never been happier to have a doctor for a good friend,” a very grateful Jill says. While he rushed toward Delaney, Dr. De Luigi says, “There were so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind, but I kept saying to myself that she has to be okay, that we will be able to get her to respond. I began CPR and rescue breathing. Then Delaney’s dad Andrew took over rescue breathing between my CPR compression sets. When the ambulance came, they put on the cardiac

10 MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

monitors and we knew we had gotten her heart beating again.” “The doctors in the ER said that Delaney was alive because someone had performed the right kind of resuscitation,’ Jill says. “There is no question in my mind that the De Luigi family saved her life.” After weeks in intensive care, Delaney was ready for rehabilitation. And Dr. De Luigi worked behind the scenes to get her the best. “We knew nothing about rehab and what to do next,” Jill adds. “But Jason took care of it for us, and I’m so grateful that we came to MedStar NRH. “For weeks while Delaney was in the ICU, I felt so separated from my child. I had to leave her well-being to other people. But when I came here, I felt like a mom again. I got to hold Delaney for the first time. The MedStar NRH team includes my husband and me in everything, and encourages us to be a part of the process. It’s like family.”

When Delaney arrived at the National Center for Children’s Rehabilitation (NCCR) at MedStar NRH she wasn’t able to sit up or speak. Her arms were in spasm, and bent across her chest. A month later, she was sitting up, learning to stand and beginning to talk. “The first thing she said was ‘mom’ and it was a wonderful moment,” says Jill. Jill or Andrew spend nights at NCCR with Delaney,, who celebrated her fourth birthday with a party in the hospital. “Our son Ian celebrated his first birthday here, as well. Everything at the hospital focuses on helping the family work together to get your child well and back home. There is such great support from the therapists, doctors and nurses—and the other families with kids in the hospital. Even the hospital president John Rockwood stops by to see how we are doing,” she adds. When MedStar NRH’s Sara Reges, RN, program advancement, brain injury services, came for a visit and presented Delaney with a Brain Bag, Delaney was thrilled. The Brain Bag, filled with useful and fun tools to jumpstart recovery, is given to every patient with a brain injury at MedStar NRH. “Sara told us about her own son who had a brain injury and recovered, which made us feel hopeful. And the bag was filled with such amazing things. It was like Christmas for Delaney!”

The Brain Bag: Gifts of Comfort and Joy for Brain Injury Patients A colorful bag filled with “goodies” is a welcoming gift for every patient with brain injury. But the Brain Bag is more than fun—its contents help patients begin their long road to recovery. “The Brain Bag contains some important tools—everything from gait belts and grip balls to white boards for communication—to help jumpstart the rehabilitation process,” explains Sara Reges, RN. Reges understands the process well. In 2007, her then-9-year-old son Charles was walking along a familiar route close to home when a car struck him. Charles suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent weeks in an induced coma at Children’s National Medical Center. “Finally, Charles woke up, talking! Then we spent two months at MedStar NRH’s pediatric unit while he made a remarkable recovery,” Reges says. Michael Yochelson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and a brain injury expert, says, “The items placed in the Brain Bag were chosen after surveying brain injury experts at MedStar NRH, as well as family members of former patients. This bag gives the patient many of the tools they will need early in their inpatient rehabilitation, and provides a sense of organization and control,” he adds. “When patients are admitted to the hospital, I visit to introduce myself and give them a Brain Bag,” Reges explains. “When I visit children in our pediatric unit, and tell parents that my family has been through a similar experience, they feel encouraged and relieved. And having the bag filled with helpful items helps them feel more confident about the future,” she adds. The Brain Bag is also helping MedStar NRH fulfill its plan to create a comprehensive center for brain injury. It is available online at and a portion from the sale of every Brain Bag goes to support the planned National Center for Brain Injury and Stroke Rehabilitation & Research at MedStar NRH, which is part of the hospital’s new capital campaign.

The white board helped the Saslavs communicate with their daughter before she had words, and the brush and mirror were a big hit. “But the best thing is the heart-shaped red pillow. She loves hearts—she calls them her ‘happy hearts’— and she sleeps with it every night.” Jill and Andrew Saslav know that recovery is a long-term process, but they are so encouraged by Delaney’s progress. For Dr. De Luigi, who faithfully stops by most mornings to give Delaney a hug, her recovery is a wonderful sight to see. “It’s so amazing to see how far she has come since that tragic day—to see the transformation of a child on a ventilator to the delightful, little girl playing with the therapists.”

NRH Today • Fall 2012


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Electronic Service Requested Thomas J. Collamore, Chairman, Board of Directors John D. Rockwood, President Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, President and CEO, MedStar Health NRH Today is produced by Marketing & Strategic Development Robert S. Hartmann, Vice President Emily R. Turk, Writer-Editor If you no longer wish to receive information from MedStar NRH, please contact us in writing at the above address.

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Calling All Runners —

Set a Healthy Pace at MedStar NRH Network Running Injury Clinics Put the latest in sports medicine expertise to work for you at MedStar NRH Network Running Injury Clinics. Now in three locations in the region, the clinics focus on helping runners bounce back from injury and prevent further injury while they train. The clinics’ highly skilled therapists help experienced athletes­­­­—and newly initiated runners—reach their personal running goals. The therapists have years of experience in sports injury and a special expertise in running, in addition to being runners themselves. They combine their expert knowledge of body mechanics with the most advanced sports technology to offer a high caliber program for the weekend warrior, as well as the professional athlete. The Running Injury Clinics provide each client with a thorough evaluation that includes:


Testing posture, strength and flexibility


 eveloping an individualized exercise D program to decrease injury risk


 raining recommendations from footwear T to incorporating cross training and use of the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill® that can give runners a safer and more gradual return to their desired training volume and intensity

To schedule your evaluation with an expert therapist, contact one of the MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network Running Injury Clinic locations:


A complete history of previous injuries


 etting individual goals, from guidance for a S novice’s first 5K, to an elite athlete looking for a marathon personal record


 arborview Sports Medicine in H Baltimore, Md.: 410-350-8372


Olney, Md.: 301-570-3138

 onducting video motion analysis on the C treadmill to review body mechanics from head to toe


Friendship Heights, Md.: 301-986-4745


NRH Today - Fall 2012  

MedStar National Rehabilitation Network quarterly publication.