Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) varies based on the individual and the brain injury. Attempts at predicting the degree of TBI recovery remain crude. Recovery can be seen months, and even years, after the initial injury. Devastating and fatal injuries can be easier to ascertain than other injuries. Frequently, there is a quick recovery time after the injury but as time progresses, recovery slows down. Some people who have suffered severe head injuries exhibit no noticeable problems, while others need constant care for the remainder of their lives. Many times a person with a brain injury remains unconscious and it is impossible to predict how long they will remain this way or when they will regain consciousness. The milder the injury the shorter the time frame for full recovery of consciousness and the more severe the injury, the longer the time frame is for a person to regain full consciousness.
The recovery of a patient from a severe head injury is often slower than family and friends expect. When the individual first begins to survive head injuries with some recovery, it is often thought that there was only a specific time frame of 6 to 18 months to recover. Family members and friends often find themselves frantically attempting to pack rehabilitation into that small “window of recovery.” After 18 months many family members and friends may want to give up and assume that the injured individual may not make any further progress. Fortunately this is not always the case and it has become increasingly clear that even individuals who sustain severe head injuries continue to recover old skills and learn new skills throughout their lives when appropriate learning strategies and environments are provided.
The major long term problems faced by head injured individuals are in the area of cognition and behavior. Physical problems, while important, are managed more readily than the decreased memory, impulsivity, poor judgement, and social inappropriateness which frequently accompanied head injury.
Most people who have had a significant brain injury will require rehabilitation. They may need to relearn basic skills, such as walking or talking. The overall goal is to improve their abilities to function at home and in the community. If the patient is placed into a rehabilitation treatment center the patient will be cared for by a team of professionals who specialize in the care of trauma victims. Their goals are to:
- Stabilize the medical and rehabilitation issues related to brain injury and the other injuries.
- Prevent secondary complications. Complications could include pressure sores, pneumonia and contractures.
- Restore lost functional abilities. Functional changes could include limited ability to move, use the bathroom, talk, eat and think.
- The staff will also provide adaptive devices or strategies to enhance functional independence.
- The staff will begin to analyze with the family and the patient what changes might be required when the person goes home.
- General Tips to Help Aid in Recovery
- Get lots of rest. Don’t rush back to daily activities such as work or school.
- Avoid doing anything that could cause another blow or jolt to the head.
- Ask your health care professional when it’s safe to drive a car, ride a bike, or use heavy equipment, because your ability to react may be slower after a brain injury.
- Take only the drugs your health care professional approved, and don’t drink alcohol until your health care professional says it is okay.
- Write things down if you have a hard time remembering.
- You may need to help re-learn skills that were lost. Your health care professional can help arrange for these services.
Brain Injury Information
- Anatomy of the Brain
- Brain Injury Glossary
- Brain Injury Prevention
- Brain Injury Statistics
- Children’s Brain Injuries
- Common Causes of TBI
- Concussion Checklist
- Effects of Brain Injury
- Emotional Changes Associated with Brain Injury
- Financial Costs of Brain Injuries
- Football Brain Injuries
- Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Symptoms of Brain Injury
- TBI Frequently Asked Questions
- Treatment for TBI
- What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
- What To Do After a Concussion