Mary Alexis Iaccarino, MD: The Evolution of Home Base TBI Treatment into a Holistic Approach

Originally, the Home Base program focused primarily on the brain injury, itself, of service members and veterans. With time, experience, and research, the program now approaches treating brain injury from a holistic method as other issues affect brain health—neurological, cognitive, and psychological functions—like sleep deprivation, chronic pain, or co-occurring substance abuse. Treating the whole person with an individually tailored plan has provided far better outcome.

Dr. Mary Alexis Iaccarino is director, Clinical TBI and Brain Health Services, Home Base.

For information about treatments for brain injury please visit The Treatment Hub.

Over the years as I’ve been seeing more and more patients and beginning to understand this injury, and this community of people better and better, I’ve come to realize that it’s an extremely complex injury. It’s not just that a blow to the head causes a single chain of problems. There are so many other factors that contribute to how a person might feel, and to poor functioning. So, for example, we used to have a TBI program, and we focused very narrowly on the head trauma. But now, through the support of the Warrior Care Network, Home Base has actually broadened our services so that we’re treating other things that can affect brain function. For example, if you sleep poorly or if you have obstructive sleep apnea, that affects neurological function and cognition. If you have multiple musculoskeletal injuries and you have chronic pain, that affects neurological function. If you have co-occurring substance use, that affects neurological function. So we have to stop thinking about it as a single injury or a single trauma, but really looking at all of the things that affect brain health and coming at it from a much more holistic approach. And that’s really where I think we’re going to get the most traction. And how we’ve really changed what we do since starting this program. BrainLine is powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project to honor and empower post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families.

Posted on BrainLine September 29, 2021. Reviewed September 29, 2021.

About the author: Mary Alexis Iaccarino, MD

Mary Alexis Iaccarino, MD, is a board-certified physiatrist with sub-specialty training in brain injury medicine. Her clinical and research areas of interest include diagnostic and treatment strategies in mild traumatic brain injury including blast and sport-related concussion. Dr. Iaccarino joined the Home Base team in 2016 as a brain injury physiatrist for the Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) and outpatient TBI program. Her goal is to provide comprehensive, evidenced-based brain injury care to veterans through multidisciplinary collaboration with psychology, neuropsychology, physical therapy, psychiatry, and other specialists. She specializes in the treatment of physical, cognitive, and behavioral deficits that occur after brain injury including headaches, pain, dizziness and vision symptoms, sleep difficulties, fatigue, concentration, and memory problems.

Headshot of Dr. Mary Alexis Iaccarino in a salmon button-down shirt