Webster defines neuropsychology as "a science concerned with the integration of psychological observations on behavior and the mind with neurological observations on the brain and nervous system". Dr. Greg Malo, of the Level I Trauma Department at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, has added a different twist with the practice of trauma neuropsychology. The types of patients most often referred to our clinical psychology team are mild to moderate head injuries. Specific mechanisms include sudden deceleration during a motor vehicle crash resulting from the impact of the frontal lobes against a windshield. This type of injury may cause a shearing of brain tissue that is not always detected via traditional neuroimaging. As Dr. Malo points out, patients can have negative CT scan results, but still exhibit significant brain behavior abnormalities.
Neuropsychological services have another important function in meeting the needs of trauma patients at Good Samaritan Hospital. The emotional sequelae of experiencing a traumatic incident can be very difficult for both the patient and family. Those individuals who have survived but lost family or friends are particularly devastated. During this post-traumatic phase extensive counseling may be required.
Optimal care of trauma patients demands more than physical treatment of injuries. Achieving the best possible outcome requires a coordination of services designed to meet our patients' needs. Recognition of these additional service requirements is a hallmark of the Good Samaritan Hospital's Level I Trauma Department.
Greg Malo, PsyD
Jan Remer-Osborn, PhD