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Help for brain-injury patients

The sage green house at 3508 10th Ave. S. near the Meadows golf course in south Moorhead looks from the outside like a conventional twinhome. But inside, the bathroom has an elevated tub and an extra-large shower to accommodate a wheelchair or li...

Beds with rails

The sage green house at 3508 10th Ave. S. near the Meadows golf course in south Moorhead looks from the outside like a conventional twinhome.

But inside, the bathroom has an elevated tub and an extra-large shower to accommodate a wheelchair or lift - mechanical aids the brain-injury patients who will live there will need. Starting early this month, the home will house Transitions, a Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota program for people who are recovering from disabling brain injuries. Every year, more than 4,000 Minnesotans are hospitalized for brain injuries.

The center has individual bedrooms for four patients, two rooms on each wing flanking a communal kitchen and living spaces in the middle, with a design that blends domestic comfort with soothing décor.

"There's really nothing like it in the state of Minnesota," said Patricia Flicker, development director for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.

The significant need for transitional care for brain-injury patients who have been discharged from the hospital, but who still require assistance before going home, was identified in community forums, she said.

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"There was definitely a gap here for needed service," Flicker said.

The house is the brainchild of Tim Sporre, a registered nurse and director at Lutheran Social Services. It is the first of four that will be opened along the Interstate 94 corridor in Minnesota.

Moorhead was selected because the Fargo-Moorhead area offers the medical and counseling services brain injury patients require, he said.

"We have kind of a network built up," Sporre said, including partnerships with neuropsychologists, psychologists, speech pathologists, and physical and occupational therapists.

"We have a long history of community-based support going back 143 years," Sporre said.

Steps were taken to make the transition center as homey as possible because long stays are the norm with brain injury patients. The design tries to allow for privacy without making guests feel isolated.

"We want families and individuals to feel like this is their home," Sporre said. "They'll be here for up to two years."

The first two years following a brain injury are considered critical in helping brain injury patients recover to the fullest extent possible.

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Early intervention, with therapy and counseling, is important to help patients realize their full potential, Sporre said.

Funding is being sought to place ceiling tracks in the hallway to accommodate a support line that helps brain injury patients to walk.

"People are going to learn to walk again in this hallway," Sporre said. "You might have to fight for every step."

Across the street, carpenters are building a house for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota that will be used for intermediate or long-term stays for people with brain injuries who have graduated from the two-year transitional recovery period.

The facility should open around January.

For more information

Call Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota at (218) 284-0881 to learn more about the Transitions program for brain recovery patients.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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