The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Summer months are peak season for head injuries


Statistics show that, during the summer months, there is sometimes a rise in head injuries/traumatic brain injuries. People are involved in activities more often that may lead to head injuries: water sports and activities, football camps, motorcycle riding, bicycles and swimming.

Sidney Regional Medical Center (SRMC) recently welcomed Rachel Wergin to their staff as a full-time speech language pathologist. Wergin acknowledged that summer months seem to be the peak season for brain injuries and concussions involving sports.

“That is when we really see an influx, ” she said.

Wergin observed that people suspected to have a concussion need to be monitored closely and it is important to know when a patient should go to the hospital.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in every age group the incident rate is higher in males than it is women and that brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability for people between the ages of 15 and 24. Other research shows that more than 85 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are preventable.

“Brain injuries often cause the following communication problems; taking turns in conversation, maintaining a topic in conversation, using an appropriate tone of voice, interpreting subtle humor or sarcasm in conversation, and responding to facial expression. Individuals often can get overwhelmed and frustrated easily,” Wergin said.

She went on to say, “Following a TBI a patient may often lack the ability to acknowledge what is socially appropriate with their interactions with others. The speech therapist connection for treatment of TBI would be a comprehensive evaluation to check grammar, vocabulary, social communication skills, and cognitive functioning. Memory and problem solving are often assessed as well as this is an important area and often affected by TBI.”

Wergin said, “If severe and the patient is no longer able to talk a Speech Generating device is often used to assist the individual in communication with family and peers. Brain injury patients often work with the following: doctors, nurses, neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers and teachers and all of these individuals are important in the rehabilitation process for any individual with a TBI.”

Wergin graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree in communication disorders from University of Nebraska-Kearney. Wergin is an active member in the American Speech and Hearing Association and has received her Certificate of Clinical Competency. She has received further extensive education in the areas of autism, pediatric and adult feeding disorders and aversions. Rachel has a passion in the area of stroke and brain injury rehabilitation helping her patients re-gain their ability to communicate and interact with their families, friends, and their community. She has experience in a variety of settings including pediatric clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals such as Creighton University Medical Center of Omaha and Bryan Health of Lincoln.


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