Traumatic brain injury can occur from a violent blow to the head, and car accidents, falls, sports and work accidents are common causes. Severity ranges from mild to severe, and those with moderate to severe injuries often deal with the consequences for life.
Although the immediate treatment for a severe TBI includes surgery and medication to stabilize the patient and prevent secondary damage, ongoing care is often necessary after the patient stabilizes.
Long-term effects of brain damage
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke discusses that physical changes, such as headaches, fatigue, confusion and dizziness, are more apparent shortly after the injury occurs. For some, these symptoms reduce with time, although they may continue for weeks or months.
Injury to the brain often progresses, especially for those who have had multiple head injuries. Emotional and behavioral symptoms often appear while the patient is going through recovery. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, these symptoms may be lifelong. Some things an injury victim may expect include:
- Memory problems
- Mood swings or combative behaviors
- Depression or anxiety
- Sound or light sensitivity
- Issues with organization or problem-solving
- Difficulty communicating
A severe TBI can also lead to an increased risk of dementia in later years.
Types of long-term care and therapy
To help a patient manage neurological changes and accompanying symptoms, treatment usually includes rehabilitation services. According to Cleveland Clinic, the goal of the multidisciplinary team, which may consist of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, neurologists, counselors and respiratory therapists, is to improve the patient’s ability to perform daily activities.
Rehab occurs initially when the patient is still in the hospital. For many patients, these services continue on an outpatient basis. The recovery time depends on various factors, such as the injury severity and age of the individual.