Traumatic brain injuries create complex damage to the brain, requiring a wide range of therapies when it comes to effective treatment. Cognitive, medical, physical, and behavioral changes can occur. The use of rehabilitation medicine may help to improve outcomes and provide for better long-term results for many patients. The key is for specialized care to be provided which addresses the patient’s unique needs.
What Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Be Treated?
Rehabilitation medicine may be helpful with a range of conditions to various degrees. This may include conditions such as:
- Brain hemorrhage or hematoma
- Anoxic encephalopathy, which occurs because of a lack of oxygen to the brain
- Brain tumors
- Disorders related to consciousness
How Rehabilitation After Traumatic Brain Injury Occurs
Traumatic brain injury is a significant problem in many areas of the U.S. In many situations, those who do not receive immediate help for these injuries may see them worsen over time. That often leads to first responders needing to assess the situation quickly to apply the right type of immediate support needed.
A number of imaging tests may be helpful, including a CT scan or MRI. Understanding what has occurred and taking steps to prevent the worsening of a person’s condition is the first step. From there, treatment needs to address the underlying cause, if known, as well as create a plan for improving health.
Often, rehabilitation is necessary. Several diverse treatment strategies may be applied to address the symptoms an individual has. In some severe cases, rehabilitation may need to continue throughout a person’s lifetime. For acute situations, such as when a person awakes from a coma or a prolonged recovery has been necessary, care may not need to last throughout a person’s lifetime, but it may need to remain until symptoms have improved.
The sooner treatment is applied, the better. Rehabilitation helps to strengthen brain communications and creates a reconnection between nerves. It enables the recovery of a patient in some situations.
What Types of Rehabilitation Are Necessary?
Each individual needs a specialized treatment plan to address their specific needs. Providers need to consider all aspects of the situation to determine the appropriate type and level of care. This may include the use of therapeutic modalities and exercise. It may include the use of medications to improve outcomes. In some situations, cognitive improvement and long-term motor skill improvement are a necessary focus.
“Many patients experiencing mild traumatic brain injury may experience full recovery,” said Dr. Sean Ataee MD, a specialist in rehabilitation medicine. “Yet, even in the most positive scenarios, continued rehabilitation may be required to secure lasting results. Lingering symptoms may occur in patients when the damage is significant.”
It is also important to know that repeated injuries, such as concussions that happen often, can create limitations on improvement, even with aggressive rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation can help in many ways. It can typically support the improvement of lingering symptoms. This may include common problems, such as headaches, visuospatial deficits, and sleep disturbance. It may also help with cognitive dysfunction improvement in some people, though the level of improvement often depends on multiple factors.
Consider the Types of Rehabilitation That May Be Available
Rehabilitation specialists include a wide range of providers in different facets of care. Most people with a traumatic brain injury will require some type of rehabilitation. The key is to learn what type of care is best.
Whether in an inpatient or outpatient basis, rehabilitation medicine for traumatic brain injuries often includes the use of professionals such as:
- Speech and language therapists: These professionals help improve a person’s communication skills. They may learn to use a communication device to help in this way.
- Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist may work to oversee the rehabilitation process. Their job often entails a focus on rehabilitation problems in the areas of medical conditions and the prescription of medications.
- Physical therapist: This person’s typical focus will be on improving mobility and helping a person to learn things like balance, movement patterns, and walking.
- Occupational therapist: The job of this provider is to help a person learn and relearn skills to help them with improving their ability to meet everyday requirements.
- Social worker: Often, a social worker or a case manager is a part of the process. They help provide access to services while also providing tools to help individuals get the care they need.
- Neuropsychologist: This person’s tasks are centered around creating an improvement in cognitive performance. They may help with coping strategies and managing behaviors that result from the injury. They may also help individuals who need support for emotional or psychological health.
Some providers are specialists in that they focus their care on providing for just those who have traumatic brain injuries. These individuals, along with others, create a plan to address the specific concerns of any individual.
Though the road can be long and complex, recovery from a traumatic brain injury may include various levels of improvement. Rehabilitation medicine is typically a big part of that process.