Communicating with people in the hospital will be easier if you have a basic understanding of what they do and how they are involved in your child's care. The following descriptions are a place to start, but ask each person to give you a more detailed explanation of his or her role in your child's care.
Case Manager (Care Coordinator)
A professional by this title works either for the hospital or an insurance company. Your child may have a case manager from both. It is the case manager's job to coordinate your child's care while still keeping track of your insurance benefits and the costs of care. The case manager can explain your choices for ongoing care. Most insurance companies or health maintenance organizations use case managers when there is a very serious injury.
Child Life Specialist
By using play, games and stories, the child life specialist helps your child cope with being in the hospital and better understand what is happening by learning about equipment and procedures. This specialist is especially helpful with young children who might find it harder to express their fears and ask questions in words, but act them out through play and stories. This person also sets up activities that let children in the hospital "just be kids" and have fun, giving them some relief from being patients.
A psychologist can help you understand how the brain injury has affected your child's behavior and thinking. The psychologist may also be available to provide emotional support and counseling to your child and family.
There also may be a neuropsychologist who is a specialist in the relationship between the brain and behavior. This specialist can later help evaluate how the brain injury may affect your child's memory, thinking, learning, judgment, emotions, behavior, and personality. The neuropsychologist will help your child prepare for school and living at home. Neuropsychologists are more often found in rehabilitation programs than hospitals.
The social worker is a professional who helps families cope with hospitalization and injury. Social workers provide families with support and counseling during their children's recoveries. They also assist families with access to community resources and community support.