TBI, or traumatic brain injury, happens when a person’s brain is damaged due to a sudden injury. Closed head injuries may cause damage if an object hits the head but doesn’t go through the skull. Penetrating head injuries occur when the object goes through the skull and enters the brain. Some of the most common symptoms of TBI include:
- Slurred speech
- Diminished coordination
- Lack of concentration
- Personality changes
- Memory loss
According to the Centers for Disease Control, most TBIs are caused by falls. Other causes include car accidents, violent assaults, and accidental trauma.
The Importance of Rehabilitation
If someone has a TBI, rehabilitation will be a vital part of the recovery. Rehab may take a variety of forms depending on a patient’s needs, and it may include occupational, physical, and speech therapy, as well as social support and psychiatric care. All of these factors are designed to help a patient recover from their injuries to the extent possible. Rehab can help:
- Improve a patient’s functional abilities
- Treat the physical and mental issues of TBI
- Offer emotional and social support
- Help patients adapt to change
Rehabilitation can prevent serious issues such as pain, blood clots, bedsores, breathing troubles, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, bladder and bowel dysfunction, reproductive issues, and more.
The Risks of Rehabilitation
Post-TBI rehab isn’t likely to cause issues, but there’s always a chance that occupational or physical therapy may cause new injuries or make existing problems worse. It is important for patients to work closely with rehab specialists who will take measures to prevent these problems.
Preparing for Rehab
Before a patient can begin rehab, they must get treatment for the early effects of the injury. Treatments may include:
- Emergency care for the injury
- ICU treatment
- Surgery for skull and brain injuries
- Recovery time in the hospital
- Transfer to a rehab facility
What to Expect During Rehabilitation
Every injury is different, and every patient’s needs are unique. Patients receive custom-designed brain injury treatment programs that involve various medical professionals, but it’s important for them to have a care coordinator who oversees the process. Programs change as the patient’s abilities and needs change, and families, case coordinators, and patients should pick the setting that works for them. Rehab can take place in inpatient or outpatient facilities, at home, in an independent living center, or in a daily program. A patient’s program may include one or more of these treatments.
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical medicine
- Psychological care
- Psychiatric care
- Language and speech therapy
Social Support is Important
Patients have various options for TBI rehab, and the type of therapy they receive is largely determined by their medical team’s assessment of their abilities and needs. Evaluations may cover speech, swallowing, bladder and bowel control, coordination and strength, language comprehension, behavioral and mental faculties, social support requirements, and other factors.
After Rehab: What Happens?
The duration of rehab and the level of follow-up care required depend on the severity of the injury and the patient’s response to therapy. While some people can return to their pre-TBI level of function, others need lifelong treatment. The effects of a traumatic brain injury can appear years later, and these patients are often at a higher risk for issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other types of dementia.
Patients will learn which symptoms and signs warrant a call to their healthcare provider and which symptoms should be expected. Caregivers and patients will get advice on self-care and safety, drug and alcohol use, and they’ll learn about available support resources in the community. Primary care providers should receive recommendations and records from the therapy team to ensure the patient gets the proper care.
Leigh Richardson runs The Brain Perofrmance Center in Irving and Dallas, Texas. She the latest state of art equipment to rehab and treat brain injuries. Where you are an athlete like a boxer or football player, or even if you are painter or artist, be sure and take care of any brain injury you receive.