TBI Treatment and Rehabilitation
No two brains are exactly alike, therefore, no two brain injuries are exactly
alike. Each TBI is as unique and complex as the life it affects. That
is why the rehabilitation process is, and should be, different and specialized
for each person. A TBI has the power to affect nearly everything associated
with a survivor including his or her family, friendships, career, and
community. After surviving a TBI, a person is very vulnerable. It is very
important that the person with the brain injury and his or her family
become very involved in the rehabilitation process.
Even after severe injury, there is hope. In many cases, the brain has the
uncanny ability to heal itself and to change, rearrange itself, and, at
times, re-learn how to function. Rehabilitation is vital in order to recover
the most independent level of functioning after a TBI. Often, damage suffered
by the brain during a TBI is irreversible. During rehabilitation however,
many can learn new ways to compensate for lost abilities and functions.
Since a brain injury is an emergency, TBI treatment begins at the time
of the incident. If a person suffers a moderate to severe TBI, chances
are they will be taken to a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, where
their injury will be stabilized and managed. Once the injury has been
stabilized, the survivor and his or her family is faced with selecting
the best setting for rehabilitation. Depending on the type and level of
the TBI, there are several options for rehabilitation.
Inpatient rehabilitation centers: In this rehabilitation setting, a multidisciplinary team approach is favored.
A team of health professionals including neuropsychologists, physiatrists,
physical and occupational therapists and speech pathologists work with
the injured person and their family achieve the highest level of independent
life skills used in activities of daily living.
Hospital outpatient rehabilitation: Continued outpatient therapies that often follow acute or sub-acute rehabilitation.
People with less severe brain injuries may attend outpatient therapies
to address functional impairments.
Comprehensive day programs at rehabilitation centers: Returning home at night, patients at a day treatment program receive rehabilitation
in a structured group setting.
Home-based rehabilitation services: Some hospitals and rehabilitation companies provide rehabilitation therapies
within the home for persons with a brain injury.
Supportive living programs: To improve independence in the home, supportive living programs offer
a variety of approaches that provide support and training in an individual’s
place of residence.
It is vital that a TBI survivor receives an individualized rehabilitation
program focused on the person’s individual strengths and capabilities.
Along with a team of specialized health professionals, a TBI survivor
and his or her family can work together to achieve the highest level of
independent living at home and in society.
It is also very important that rehabilitation change over time to adapt
to the survivor’s changing needs and continuing healing. This is
often a long process. Retraining the brain and body to function and perform
even the most mundane tasks can take years. Recovery of a brain injury
takes time, patience and perseverance.
The Multidisciplinary Team
Most rehabilitation centers have begun to favor a multidisciplinary team
approach to brain injury rehabilitation. This includes specialists from
physiatry, psychiatry, neurology, psychology, neuropsychology, occupational
therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy.
Physiatrist: Physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation are
called physiatrists. Physiatrists are generally the primary treating physicians
for head-injured patients and direct the comprehensive rehabilitation
team of professionals .
Neurologist: Neurologists specialize in illnesses that affect the brain, spinal cord,
peripheral nerves, and muscles, including posttraumatic seizures, pain
and headaches, cognitive disorders, personality changes, and disturbances
of motor function.
Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and prescribe medications
and psychotherapy for posttraumatic head-injured patients suffering emotional
problems like depression, anger, mood fluctuations, and mania.
Psychologist: Psychologists are not medical doctors. They confine their treatment of
posttraumatic emotional problems to psychotherapy (“talk therapy”).
While they may advise the use of specific medications, they cannot prescribe them.
Neuropsychologist: A neuropsychologist is a psychologist with additional specialized training
in psychological testing. Most have a PhD in psychology with additional
years of post-doctoral training in clinical neuropsychology. Their graduate
education emphasizes brain anatomy, brain function, and brain injury or
disease and their testing helps diagnose and assess patients with a variety
of medical conditions that impact intellectual, cognitive, or behavioral
functioning. They can administer and interpret certain types of standardized
tests that can detect effects of brain dysfunction.
Cognitive Therapist: Cognitive therapists help brain-injured patients develop new strategies
for remembering and exercising higher intellectual tasks.
Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapists help patients recover fine dexterity when manipulative
skills have diminished, such as figuring out how to button clothes, use
utensils, and count currency.
Physical Therapist: Physical therapists work with patients to improve motor skills like walking,
climbing stairs, reaching, and lifting.
Speech Therapist: Speech therapy following a brain injury usually addresses a variety of
issues including speech quality, and understanding and expressing the
spoken and written word.
Life Care Planner: Life care planners are professionals who work with the health care team
to provide a life care plan. A life care plan is a dynamic document based
upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis
and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and
future needs, with associated costs, for individuals who have experienced
catastrophic injury or have chronic care needs.
If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI and you believe the injury was
due to the fault of another party, contact Baum Hedlund today for a