Unlike a broken arm or a case of the flu there is no end date to recovering from a traumatic brain injury. There can be recovery seen months and even years after the initial injury. The success of the recovery from TBI varies greatly, depending on the severity and area of the brain injury as well as the individual. Two individuals with the same brain injury may recover over different lengths of time and by varying degrees. For example, persons under the age of two and those over the age of 60 have the worst prognosis for recovery even if their injuries are identical to someone in a different age group.
To determine prognosis, medical professionals use the following indicators:
· Duration of coma – A shorter coma will mean a better prognosis
· Post-traumatic amnesia – The faster the memory is recovered, the better the prognosis
· Age – As previously stated, those over 60 years of age and those below two, have a decidedly worse prognosis than other age groups
There are several common theories regarding mechanisms that aid in brain function recovery:
· Diaschisis – Areas of the brain that are depressed, but uninjured, begin to function again.
· A part of the brain that does not normally perform a particular task, takes over.
· Redundancy performed in the function so another area of the brain takes over.
· Behavioral substitution – New strategies are learned by the individual to compensate for deficits.
The Rehabilitation Facility
The first steps toward recovery begin as soon as the patient can be safely transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility. The patient will have the care of trauma case professionals. The goals of the team are to stabilize the issues related to the TBI and other injuries, prevent secondary complications, such as pneumonia, and restore lost functions. The staff will discuss with the family what changes will need to be made at home for the patient.
While at the rehabilitation facility the patient will participate in daily therapy. The patient may even need assistance with simple activities such as brushing teeth, eating and getting out of bed. The staff will protect the patient from falling, wandering off or getting hurt. Patients are often confused and forgetful and may try to elope (escape and go home).
The Rehabilitation Center Team
The team leader in the rehabilitation program is the physiatrist, a physician that specializes in physical rehabilitation and medicine. They are accustomed to treating a wide range of issues, including post TBI changes. The physiatrist will make assessments, prescribe treatment and direct the team.
Another key member of the team is the neuropsychologist, who will assess the patient’s changes in thinking and behavior. These changes may include, poor memory, poor decision-making, poor attention and concentration and impulsivity. The patent may also have the inability to speak, diminished language and communication abilities or inability to understand when spoken to.
Many TBI patients are unaware of the changes in the brain and how those changes will impact their daily lives. They may be distraught being away from home and loved ones and may not understand what has happened. The neuropsychologist, through education and counseling, can help assure the patients and the patient’s family,
Other key members of the rehabilitation team include:
· The Rehabilitation Nurse – The function of the rehabilitation nurse is to assist patients in obtaining optimal health and adapting to an altered lifestyle. The rehabilitation nurse provides care and assistance with nutrition, overall general health, sleep pattern disturbance, pain management, cognition problems and much more.
· The Physical Therapist – The physical therapists job in TBI care is to overcome or minimize the paralyzing effects of a brain injury. They are experts in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular examination and treatment. They train the TBI patient to begin to walk again and assist in getting them out of bed when they cannot walk alone
· The Occupational Therapist – The job of the occupational therapist is to assess functions related to the movement of upper extremities, daily living skills, cognition, vision and perception. With the patient they determine the best ways to perform daily living functions including showering, dressing and personal hygiene and identify any special equipment required. The OT will evaluate skills for the patient to return home such as cooking, shopping, banking and budgeting. The OT will also assess prevocational and vocational skills for returning to work.
Any individual who has a severe traumatic brain injury will be in recovery, to some degree, for the rest of their lives. The amount of cognitive, emotional and physical recovery, and how long it will take, cannot be accurately determined by any tests or scales. The Glasgow Coma Scale and the Los Amigos Scale can grade the injury initially, but neither can accurately determine recovery. The only signs of apparent recovery are determined by progress over time. There are new studies that show the long terms effects of TBI can be impeded.
A person with a severe TBI will face a lifetime of costs that can run into the millions of dollars in medical bills, rehabilitation, therapy, special needs and lost income. Insurance policies will only cover a portion of the costs. A skilled brain injury attorney is the best ally to have if the injury was the fault of another party or parties. The attorney can help recover the money the patient will need to live a life as close to normal as possible without facing poverty in the future.
Vititoe Law Group has helped countless victims of TBI recover the money they deserved for their injuries. If you or a loved one received a traumatic brain injury reach out to an experienced brain injury attorney today at 818-851-1886. You may be entitled to a large cash award.