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Traumatic brain injury clinic

Notice to patients

During the COVID-19 pandemic, appointments in the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic are being offered virtually (secure videoconference from your home computer) or by phone.

More information about virtual visits and COVID-19 »

If you have an upcoming appointment in our clinic, we will contact you to set up a phone or virtual appointment or reschedule your appointment. If you have any questions, please contact our office directly at 416-480-4095 or by email at elke.mclellan@sunnybrook.ca.

Accessing on-line brain injury/concussion supports »

COVID-19 and mental health »

Feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation are normal during times of uncertainty and infectious disease outbreak and can include:

  • fear and worry about your own health and the health of your family
  • changes in sleep, eating patterns, energy and activity levels
  • difficulty concentrating
  • increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
  • worsening of chronic health problems
  • worsening of brain injury/concussion symptoms

What can I do to take care of my mental health and wellbeing after concussion?

Check out our Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion Handbook here.

Where to get help

If you are in distress or need emotional support, here are some free mental health services and resources to help you through this uncertain time.

Learn more about COVID-19 and managing mental health

View all information about COVID »


About the clinic

The traumatic brain injury clinic is an outpatient service that provides consultation and management for individuals who are 14-65 years of age and who have sustained a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury.

Our interdisciplinary team includes a cognitive neurologist, a psychiatrist, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, and a clinic coordinator with a clinical background in occupational therapy. The clinic also has a well-recognized research component, and our extended team includes research coordinators.

We are dedicated to the provision of person-centred care and strive to provide an evidenced-based approach for the early assessment, diagnosis and management of the physical, emotional, behavioural, cognitive, psychological and psychiatric symptoms following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury.

What to expect during your visit to the clinic

Initially, you will meet with the occupational therapist/clinic coordinator and the clinic physician. They will ask about your medical and social history, your present symptoms, and the impact your symptoms have on your life. They will assess you for any possible difficulties that you may be having after your injury. The clinic doctor will make a diagnostic assessment and will provide recommendations for management and treatment of your traumatic brain injury symptoms. The team will provide you with information and education about traumatic brain injury, and what to expect during your recovery. You will also be provided with strategies on how to cope with your symptoms and difficulties, and help your return to work, school and/or other daily life activities.

Your plan of care may also include:

  • additional medical, cognitive and/or diagnostics tests
  • referrals for consultation with other specialists or medical services
  • coordinating appropriate treatment/therapy, rehabilitation and other community services (OHIP funded and third party funded services)

Additional appointments in the traumatic brain injury clinic will be scheduled based on:

  • your needs
  • an evidence-based framework that is based on expected recovery
  • evolution of symptoms and the availability of the clinic

Typically, patients undergo an initial assessment, followed by reassessments that occur every three months, up to a maximum of one year from the time of their target injury. We are situated in an acute care hospital and service one of the biggest and busiest tertiary trauma centres in Canada. As such, we can only see, manage and treat patients on an acute basis with time-limited follow-up that cannot extend beyond one year.

How to get referred to the clinic

All new patients must be referred by physicians only. Referrals must be made within three months of the target injury.

If you are a patient that was seen in the emergency department at Sunnybrook, or if you were admitted to Sunnybrook for your brain injury, your treating or assessing doctor may make a direct referral to the clinic. Patients can be referred internally for post-discharge follow-up, or by their family doctor, by faxing a referral letter to 416-480-4613.

All community referrals (patients who have not seen a doctor at Sunnybrook for their injury) must be made through the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Network, which oversees referrals for all ABI services within the GTA. Admission criteria for the traumatic brain injury clinic are outlined on the ABI Network website.

Community referrals

» Download the community referral form

Our office will call the patient with information about the first appointment. Our office will also contact the referring doctor with the appointment date and time.

The clinic’s preference is that external referrals are received directly from the patient’s family doctor. At a minimum, the family doctor must be informed and in agreement with the referral by the referring physician. Our clinic works with family doctors in a collaborative model of care, in order to ensure coordination of care, and to optimize the chances for recovery.

Patients who do not have a family doctor at the time of the referral should be counseled by the referring physician about how to obtain access to a family doctor or family health-care team.

To avoid duplication, patients who are referred to inpatient brain injury rehabilitation units, and/or patients who are referred to other brain injury clinics, will not be seen in the traumatic brain injury clinic. Patients with individual symptoms that can be served by single services will also not be seen in the traumatic brain injury clinic.

About our research

The traumatic brain injury clinic has a large database that includes pre-injury, injury, imaging and clinical outcome data from patients with mild and moderate brain injuries. The database contains a wealth of information that enables carrying out longitudinal studies exploring the relationship between neuroimaging findings, clinical and neuropsychological findings, treatment and rehabilitation, and prognosis and outcome. So far, research on TBI has provided novel insights into the trajectory of symptoms, outcome and prognosis, and response to treatment or rehabilitation. It has provided novel data about:

  • prevalence of mood disorders in mild TBI
  • predictors of poor outcome in mild TBI
  • link between mood and cognition
  • link between sleep disorders and TBI outcome
  • link between classifying parameters for the severity of TBI and the development of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms
  • role of litigation in modulating outcome
  • early functional neuroimaging changes in TBI with associated mood symptoms

The database has been used to inform research, new therapies and rehabilitation methods to benefit patients with mild to moderate TBI and their families.

Quick links


Mild traumatic brain injury/concussion: your guide to recovery

A guide to help you through the concussion recovery process.

Read the handbook


Questions?

If you require more information or have clinical queries, please email Elke McLellan, at Elke.McLellan@sunnybrook.ca, or call 416-480-4095.

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Location and contact

Traumatic brain injury clinic

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue
F-wing, ground floor, room 52
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4095
Fax: 416-480-4613

Community referral

» Download the community referral form