Nexus Neurorecovery Center Hires Osteopathic Physician to Explore Holistic Strategies for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Dr. Savitha Bonthala joins Nexus Health Systems as Director of Physical Medicine

Nexus Health Systems welcomes Savitha Bonthala, D.O., M.P.H. to the team at Nexus Neurorecovery Center. Dr. Bonthala assumes the role of Director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, offering holistic care to brain-injured patients in the form of osteopathic manipulative medicine.

“An integrated, holistic approach to medicine is what I’m most excited about. It’s a new frontier more people are open to,” explained Dr. Bonthala. “Ten years ago, people wouldn’t have been so open-minded, but now they are realizing that there are limits to what we’ve been doing and there might be more out there to help patients.”

Dr. Bonthala has trained in inpatient and outpatient care for brain-injured patients. She became interested in brain injury rehabilitation during her residency at Baylor College of Medicine, where she also completed her fellowship. She was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation for her work in treating post-traumatic headaches in brain-injured patients using osteopathic manipulative medicine, treatment that involves a hands-on approach to treating acute and chronic conditions of the body.

While studying at the Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Bonthala received a Master’s in Public Health. As an “Anne C. Garter” global health fellow with the American Medical Women’s Association, she performed global health work in Bolivia alongside the World Health Organization and in Uganda with Engeye Clinic.

Dr. Bonthala is now focused on incorporating osteopathic manipulative medicine into patient care at Nexus Health Systems. She’s excited to help integrate patients with post-traumatic head injuries back into their communities. Her responsibilities include developing programs with the therapy team and improving care processes with in-service teaching. Dr. Bonthala will also build relationships with physicians in the community to help them understand how Nexus Health Systems helps brain-injured patients heal and return to their own communities.

Determined to explore the potential of holistic medical practice, Dr. Bonthala will also collaborate with Dr. Valena, Physician Director of Rehabilitation at Nexus Neurorecovery Center. Together, they will build an integrative medicine program. Trained in both osteopathic and allopathic institutions, Dr. Bonthala is convinced there’s more to treating patients than meets the eye, and more to healing than what western hospitals provide. She sees opportunity in exploring holistic strategies, explaining, “There’s more we can do for brain-injured patients that is not being widely done or studied. In the west, we’ve focused on the potential of technology and robotics in medicine, but holistic care and providing something unique to patients with brain injuries has been largely ignored.”

Dr. Bonthala plans to create a clinic that offers spasticity management, including phenol, botox injections, and intrathecal baclofen pump management.

“I want to provide spasticity care and management to help reduce patients’ pain and improve their quality of life, so they can function in their day-to-day lives. Not many physicians do that in this area, but we need to so that patients don’t have to travel far to find relief,” explained Dr. Bonthala.

In coordination with other clinicians at Nexus Neurorecovery Center, Dr. Bonthala also plans to introduce a meditation program for patients, their families, and staff as a therapeutic complement to more traditional practices.

“Meditation has helped me maintain balance in my own life,” she added. “It has documented benefits for the nervous system, especially in chronic pain. I’ll offer meditative practice as an alternative to treating chronic pain for patients who don’t want to increase their doses of medication.”

Although she studied honors business as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, she shares, “At an early age I knew that taking care of others was important to me and a big part of my future. In elementary school, classmates with sprained ankles came to me for help.”

She also credits her mom and sister, both physicians themselves, for inspiring her to pursue medicine and caring for those in need.

Because of Dr. Bonthala’s enthusiasm to find effective holistic strategies for patients’ needs, Dr. Valena expressed his excitement to work together.

“We are both driven to give patients other options besides medication management to support their rehabilitation. I look forward to having Dr. Bonthala’s experience in osteopathic medicine to help develop new brain injury rehabilitation strategies,” Dr. Valena remarked.

Nexus Health Systems President Erin Cassidy expressed a similar sentiment, sharing, “We’re always exploring new avenues of treatment and medicine. I’m confident Dr. Bonthala will provide valuable insight on the opportunities osteopathic treatment provides for brain injury rehabilitation.”