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Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Dr. Ian Crain Nominated for Health Care Hero Award

Most heroes don’t think of themselves that way. They go about their daily routines, making life better for those around them, with little or no fanfare.

For many in the brain injury community, Neurologist Ian Crain, MD fits this description to a tee, which is why he has been nominated by the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona as a 2021 Health Care Hero for the Phoenix Business Journal.

Dr. Crain’s research has incorporated numerous neurological issues, including the use of migraine prophylactic medications for the treatment of acute post-traumatic headaches.

Dr. Ian Crain Nominated for Health Care Hero Award

Most heroes don’t think of themselves that way. They go about their daily routines, making life better for those around them, with little or no fanfare.

For many in the brain injury community, Neurologist Ian Crain, MD fits this description to a tee, which is why he has been nominated by the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona as a 2021 Health Care Hero for the Phoenix Business Journal.

Dr. Crain’s research has incorporated numerous neurological issues, including the use of migraine prophylactic medications for the treatment of acute post-traumatic headaches.

Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, he is committed to reaching out to members of the brain injury community through his work as At-Large Member of the non-profit Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona.

Currently Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Banner University Medical Center, he received his B.S. from Barrett, The Honors College, Arizona State University, then graduated from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. Over the next five years, Dr. Crain completed a residency in neurology and fellowship in sports neurology at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor at the UA College of Medicine.

Dr. Crain’s research has incorporated numerous neurological issues, including the use of migraine prophylactic medications for the treatment of acute post-traumatic headaches. This retrospective analysis was obtained over the course of five years from patients at the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center.

The Arizona native continues to lead the fight to treat people with brain injury in a holistic fashion, focusing on the whole person rather than just their symptoms. As Director of Banner Health’s Brain Injury Center, he has been able to lead interdisciplinary teams to help survivors of brain injury live their best possible lives.

The biggest advantage of this forward-looking methodology lies in the accessibility of a wide range of key specialists, which include therapists, neuropsychologists, optometrists, and physicians who identify and treat specific issues like cognitive impairment, headaches, and seizures. The result has been 90% of all his cases are successfully managed.  What’s more, his emphasis on staying current on research and techniques has given patients a leg up on evolving treatments.

With this insight, he advocates for those who may not fully recover from their brain injuries. By removing feelings of shame and blame, he has been able to take his “whole person” approach and help these people on the road to recovery. Subsequently, the wraparound services allow patients to place their focus on healing instead of finding individual specialists, looking for other clinics, or generally managing their own care.

Dr. Crain makes all this possible in two stages: First, he focuses on the treatment of the immediate presenting issue. With his full interdisciplinary team, various specialists are available to lend their expertise. Then, he helps plan long-term recovery with an emphasis on building a patient’s cognitive reserve. “Use it or lose it” is his mantra, as he encourages active learning, regular exercise, and heart health.

Another area of passion for Dr. Crain is the study of alcohol’s debilitating effect on the brain. He has identified the risk involved with chronic alcohol use: By preventing the absorption of thiamine into the brain, it can lead to devastation of many functions, particularly a person’s eyes and legs, often requiring hospitalization in nursing homes for people as young as their thirties. This deterioration has become more obvious with people making fewer trips to their doctor.

As is usually the case with heroes, Dr. Crain’s impact extends beyond the community of patients he works with—he also urges brain injury education among the general population. This includes the importance of brain health with proper diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation. His hope is this education will ensure that if someone experiences a brain injury themselves or if it happens to a friend or family member, they won’t have to start at square one looking for help when they need it most.

He also wants people to know that concussions are treatable, but the key to this is early and accurate diagnosis and treatment. The worst effects are immediately after the injury, so his therapies are based upon that reality. He teaches that even a whiplash (think car accident) or blow to the body can cause a concussion. Once the initial crisis passes, it’s time to heal the brain with a gradual increase in activity.

While Dr. Crain provides the best care he can, like any hero worth his salt, he realizes it’s not a one-person job. He’s seen many of his patients’ lives turned upside down in an instant who have had to discover and build social support networks on their own. To circumvent this issue, he has partnered with the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, which refers people like his patients to free resources, information, support groups, and events.

He even takes his active role in referring to the Brain Injury Alliance a step further and has resource facilitation staff from the Alliance join him at the Banner[CC1]  Brain Injury Clinic he manages to provide resources right away “in house.” Prior to the pandemic, Brittany Sweeney-Lawson, the Resource Facilitation Manager for the Alliance, was providing these weekly on-site visits, and noticed the benefits immediately.

“Being able to reach people after their clinical appointment and say, ‘additional help and hope is available… you don’t have to just wait until your next appointment to get connected with valuable support!’ is such a powerful rewarding thing,” Sweeney-Lawson says. “Having these connections with professionals like Dr. Crain is crucial, because at the Brain Injury Alliance, we can do our due diligence to ensure that in addition to getting their medical needs met, a patient and their family are getting taken care of socially, emotionally, economically, etc.”

When all is said and done, Sweeney-Lawson acknowledges, “caring for people is really a team effort.”

By implementing this wraparound system of care, Dr. Crain continues to provide cutting-edge treatments within a humanistic framework, leading to each patient’s ability to live their best possible life.

Health Care Hero Dr. Ian Crain. It has a nice ring to it. Congratulations to Dr. Crain for his 2021 Phoenix Business Journal Healthcare Hero nomination. In our books, he’s already a winner.

ABOUT BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF ARIZONA

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona:

  • Works with Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
  • Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
  • Hosts Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Workgroup
  • Has Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response team with peer support, training, and family wraparound services
  • Facilitates Brain Health Advisory Council
  • Manages statewide Neuro Info-Line: 888-500-9165

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