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Traumatic brain injury occurs when there is sudden trauma to the head that causes damage to the brain. This can occur in situations such as an automobile accident, a fall, or intentional abuse, such as a fight. The injury to the brain can be permanent or temporary, depending on factors such as the type of injury, the age of the patient, and the area of the brain suffering damage. Rehabilitation after this type of injury is referred to as traumatic brain injury rehab and focuses on helping the patient to regain as much normal functioning as possible.
Traumatic brain injury rehab typically begins while the patient is still in the hospital. This type of injury often requires some sort of brain surgery as well as a period of monitoring after the surgery. While the patient is recovering from the actual physical trauma, a medical team consisting of doctors, nurses, and other supportive personnel will be put together and will work closely with one another to provide the necessary support to the patient. The first step in traumatic brain injury rehab is to make sure the patient's health is physically and medically stable.
The next step in traumatic brain injury rehab often involves moving the patient to a rehabilitation clinic. During this time, a physical therapist will likely work with the patient on such tasks as learning to walk again. The physical therapist can also help the patient work on balance and coordination issues, which are often limited after a traumatic brain injury.
While the patient is in the traumatic brain injury rehab facility, other members of the support team will be available to assist with any other problems stemming from the brain injury. An occupational therapist can help the patient with activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing, and grooming. If there are speech impairments due to the brain injury, a speech therapist can help to teach the patient to talk again, or in some cases, find other ways to communicate. Psychologists will be available to assist with emotional responses to the injury itself as well as the new physical and mental limitations.
Traumatic brain injury rehab does not stop once the patient goes home. There will likely be some degree of limitation that will require ongoing supportive care. The primary physician will communicate with the rest of the medical team as well as the patient's caregiver in order to develop an ongoing individualized treatment plan.