A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain suffers a temporary or permanent neurological dysfunction due to an accident. A brain injury is up to 10 times more common than a spine injury, according to recent studies1. The number of people suffering from traumatic brain injury is underestimated as they are often misdiagnosed or classified incorrectly. Add to that the fact that some patients don’t report mild injuries and it becomes clearer that the number of patients with traumatic brain injuries can be quite high. In 2010, the last year with reported data, approximately 2.5 million people sustained a traumatic brain injury2. Moreover, it is estimated that TBI is the cause of 30% of injury-related deaths in the US. Most brain injuries follow motor-vehicle accidents, falls or assaults and are more common among men than women, with the difference being associated with risk-taking behavior. In this article, we will take a look at the types of TBIs, as well as some of the rehabilitation and treatment options available for patients at NeuLife Rehab.
1. Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Focal Injury – This results from direct mechanical force (such as those when the head strikes the windshield in a motor vehicle accident) and is usually associated with brain tissue damage visible to the naked eye. A common cause of focal injury is a penetrating head injury, in which the skull is perforated, as frequently occurs in auto accidents, blows to the head, and gunshot wounds. Focal injuries typically have symptoms that are related to the damaged area of the brain. Some of the injuries classified as focal include but are not limited to:
- Cerebral contusion (when the brain is bruised as a result of contact with the skull)
- Epidural hemorrhage (bleeding resulting from skull fracture)
- Intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain tissue)3
Diffuse Injury – the injury is caused by hypoxia, meningitis, and damage to blood vessels. Unlike focal injuries, which are usually easy to detect using imaging, diffuse injuries may be difficult to detect and define; often, much of the damage is microscopic. Diffuse injuries can result from acceleration/deceleration injuries. Some of the injuries classified as diffuse include but are not limited to:
- Ischemic brain injury (as a result of insufficient blood supply to the brain)
- Diffuse axonal injury (widespread damage to the white matter of the brain that usually results from acceleration/deceleration types of injury)
- Swelling (an after-effect of an injury, can lead to dangerous increases in intracranial pressure4)
2. Consequences of TBI
The range of severity of traumatic brain injuries is broad, from mild concussion to persistent vegetative states. Depending on the severity of the injury, the consequences may vary. They include cognitive impairment (long- or short-term memory loss, difficulty learning and memorizing new things, short attention span, speech problems, lack of concentration, problems with reading and writing), neurological impairment (difficulty with walking, coordination, or balance; loss of taste, hearing, vision or smell; insomnia; fatigue), behavioral changes (anger, frustration, impatience, reduced self-esteem, impulsivity, anxiety, PTSD, apathy), and finally, lifestyle consequences (unemployment, loss of independence, financial problems caused by medical bills, etc.)
At NeuLife, we know that every injury is different, and each patient faces their own set of challenges. This knowledge is the driving force behind our individualized approach to care. The brain injury rehabilitation program at NeuLife offers a full continuum of services for patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), non-traumatic/mild brain injury (MBI), and acquired brain injury (ABI), including a stroke. Our comprehensive program addresses the specific needs of each patient and family. The team focuses on maximizing abilities, providing education, increasing mobility and preventing complications. Our brain injury rehabilitation program includes clinical evaluations, medical care and therapeutic activities that are customized to meet the goals, needs and abilities of each patient. By leveraging a variety of rehabilitation services, we are able to create an integrated approach focused on helping each patient recover skills associated with activities of daily living (ADLs) using compensatory strategies and mobility aids to achieve a seamless transition into the community. Every component of the treatment plan is customized to the individual patient for guaranteed results.
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