Ross Zafonte, DO: Lessons Learned at Home Base Throughout the Years


Home Base’s two weeks of assessments and individualized therapies focused on treating veterans and services members with TBI and PTSD seems to be the “sweet spot” of time for this kind of immersive program. Staff in the program have seen lives changed, lives saved. They understand that the veteran experience is a unique one, hard for civilians to fully comprehend. Providing these men and women with the tailored interventions and therapies they need to enhance function in their day-to-day life is often as important as the bonding aspect of being with others who have had and continue to have similar experiences, challenges, and forward steps.

Dr. Ross Zafonte is the Chief of Traumatic Brain Injury for Home Base, part of the Wounded Warrior Project's Warrior Care Network.

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When we started the Home Base program, we were very small. And one of the things that we learned is this immersion or intense therapy really does make a difference and we have measures that show that. That two weeks really does change people. It changed their lives, it saves lives, results in an enhanced function. And we arrived at that number, in some ways, by chance and by careful measurement in thinking that four weeks is too much of a burden, but often an employer or someone else might let a veteran off for two weeks. And it seems to be just the right period of time to immerse in a situation, to change one’s approach in life and to not necessarily get so abstract from one’s own environment. We learned that thinking about people as people instead of a single diagnostic group is absolutely essential. And we’ve learned that the veteran experience is special, it’s unique and that you have to have an appreciation for that bonding aspect, but also what they’ve been through. You know, I had the privilege some years ago of traveling to Afghanistan and have seen what really happens and what really goes on. And for those of us in the civilian community who have never been a part of it, we don't quite get it. And it’s quite amount of service, it’s an incredible exposure and we in the program are incredibly grateful for the service of our nation’s heroes. 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 October 6, 2021. Reviewed October 6, 2021.

About the author: Ross D. Zafonte, DO

Dr. Ross Zafonte is the Clinical and Research Leader for Traumatic Brain Injury at the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. He is the Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, vice president of Medical Affairs at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at MGH.

Headshot of Dr. Ross D. Zafonte