Published on February 20, 2023 by Eric Holsomback  
Caring for the whole person. While this message appears simple, its impact is profound. And each year, students experience this impact firsthand through the summer’s Bright Ideas TBI Camp, a program for persons living with a traumatic brain injury and their caregivers.

Hosted in partnership with the Alabama Head Injury Foundation, students in the School of Health Profession’s physical therapy, speech-language pathology and physician assistant studies programs worked together in interprofessional teams—alongside occupational therapy students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and faculty/students from social work and nutrition—to assess, provide treatment and hold education sessions based on individual needs.

The 16 individuals who attended the camp were all at least three years removed from their injury—though several participants were more than 10 or 20 years removed. Often, they have exhausted their healthcare and therapy resources, leaving caregivers feeling like they are running low on options. They come to camp knowing they will leave with a renewed action plan—created by the students—and new tools they can use when they return home.

While lasting only three days, the camp produced significant outcomes for its participants—like a team of students working with their patient to fish in the atrium, so they can once again participate in an activity they love.

In caring for the whole person, the student’s relationship with the patient plays a vital role, one that is based in compassion and empathy.

While these second and third-year students have had several opportunities for patient interactions prior to camp, for many, this was their first chance to work with a patient for three consecutive days. “It made the entire experience so rewarding,” said a third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student. “As we got to know our patient, understanding all that she has gone through, we were able to encourage and celebrate with her. Persons who have had a traumatic brain injury need to celebrate the smallest victories.” 

The interprofessional nature of the Bright Ideas TBI Camp affords students the opportunity to observe how each discipline evaluates the same patient. “It was really fun to work with speech-language pathology and occupational therapy,” one student said. “This was my first time to sit in on a speech evaluation, and I saw so many aspects of their care that I could incorporate into mine. Plus, it was meaningful to just brainstorm ideas, figuring out how collectively we could provide the best care.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.