Fifteen physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists affiliated with the TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network have been certified in the subspecialty of brain injury medicine by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Only 271 physiatrists in the country passed the daylong test, administered last October.
The subspecialty certification in brain injury medicine (BIM) was cosponsored by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR), and approved by the ABMS in 2011. The approval officially established the field of brain injury medicine as a subspecialization in psychiatry, neurology, child neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation. The majority of new ABPRM diplomates in Texas are affiliated with the TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network.
“Certification in a subspecialty ensures knowledge and competence and requires ongoing learning to keep up with advances in the field,” says Gerard Francisco, MD, chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann, professor and chair of the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and chair of the Brain Injury Medicine Committee of the ABPMR. “More in-depth knowledge of a subspecialty ultimately translates to better patient care. Choosing a physician with the certification ensures brain injury patients and their families that the doctors leading their care team are up to date in their knowledge of the field.”
Jacob Joseph, MD, notes that physicians certified in brain injury medicine have the skills to deal with the full range of brain injury issues. “Our understanding and awareness of how much and how long one can be affected by even a mild traumatic brain injury has increased significantly over the past two decades,” says Dr. Joseph, who is clinical chief of specialty rehabilitation programs and medical director of international programs at TIRR Memorial Hermann and an assistant professor in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School. “The certification shows that we have the capability to deal with a range of brain injury issues, from concussion to severe TBI, and that we understand the underlying mechanism of brain injury.”
The certification will also improve patient care by standardizing the training of younger physicians who focus their practice on brain injury. “This is a gradual progression toward a greater standardization of brain injury medicine across the country,” says Elaine Magat, MD, co-medical director of the TIRR Memorial Hermann Outpatient Medical Clinic and an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School. “By 2016, the requirements of brain injury fellowship programs will be standardized in programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. To achieve certification in brain injury medicine, physicians must have the education, training and experience to address a range of issues related to brain injury. Patients can be confident that a certified brain injury specialist is up to date on issues related to their rehabilitation.”
In addition to Drs. Francisco, Joseph and Magat, the following physicians achieved the brain injury medicine certification: Glenda Bosques, MD, chair of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at TIRR Memorial Hermann and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital; Monica Crump, MD, medical director of TIRR Memorial Hermann-The Woodlands; Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, co-medical director of the TIRR Memorial Hermann Outpatient Medical Clinic; Nneka Ifejika, MD, associate professor of neurology at McGovern Medical School; and Richard Huang, MD, medical director of Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, Christopher Falco, MD, Joel Frontera, MD, Margaret Oni, MD, Cindy Ivanhoe, MD, Sunil Kothari, MD, Michelle Pu, MD, and Argyrios Stampas, MD, who are attending physicians in the TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network.