Recovery & rehabilitation FAQs
What is the recovery process for traumatic brain injuries?
In the immediate aftermath of a brain injury, a patient is likely to require medical stabilisation. This involves monitoring, and managing, simple processes like breathing. Neurosurgery may be required to control bleeding within the brain, or beneath the skull. Surgery might also be required to relieve fluid pressure on the brain or repair damaged tissue.
The patient will most likely be attended to in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Neurological Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Once the most life threatening aspects of their condition have subsided, the patient enters rehabilitation. This involves physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and more. After hospital rehabilitation has been completed, ongoing outpatient rehabilitation services may still be required. If the deficits that the patient is experiencing continue to be extremely serious, they may require rehabilitation services in professional care environments.
How much can a person recover from a severe brain injury?
The likelihood of a full recovery from a brain injury depends on the part of the brain that is affected the extent of the injury.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, the brain will attempt to recover and repair bruised neurons and this is known as the spontaneous recovery period. It can take weeks or even months for this process to take place.
Rehabilitation is required to stimulate the brain in specific ways, effectively retraining different neutrons to take on the responsibilities of permanently damaged neurons.
Often, a patient must relearn certain skills and functions which they had previously taken for granted. In addition to this, the patient should be assisted with therapeutic intervention as soon as medical assistance has been completed.
Unfortunately, the brain is so complex that the likelihood of recovery can only be measure on an individual basis. In many cases, the recovery process will continue for several years or the rest of a person’s life.
How does rehabilitation assist the recovery process?
At the outset of rehabilitation the focus is on natural recovery. Next, specific deficits or problems are identified and a program of treatment can be introduced which focuses on improving functionality in these areas.
Throughout the rehabilitation process, the patient is assisted in regaining skills or body and brain functions which have been lost. This approach continues from a medical rehabilitation environment, through the community and even the patient’s home.
What are the phases of rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation is customised to each individual patient, since no two brain injuries are the same. Every brain injury patient, receives rehabilitation on their own timeframe and at their own pace.
The process begins with the acute phase, or medical phase, in which professionals work to maximise natural recovery, while creating strategies for re-developing the patient’s independence. During the post-acute phase, the emphasis shift to teaching skills or abilities and bringing rehabilitation home with the patient, their place of work or school and wider community.
What happens when rehabilitation is complete?
For some patients, rehabilitation is never complete, it continues through a variety of therapies to promote key skills and improve their independence. Many patients return to their previous roles at home, at work and in the community, while others require continuing support and assistance. In some cases, this assistance is provided by family members or trained rehabilitation experts.
The ultimate aim of rehabilitation is to help a person living with a brain injury to regain independence, self worth and dignity. This is achieved in stages and often over long periods of time.