All posts by redcastle

Facts about traumatic brain injuries – National Brain Injury Awareness Month

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common and debilitating. They are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. In 2019 alone, traumatic injuries accounted for 60,000 deaths in the United States.

A brain injury may affect the person for the rest of their life. Most commonly, they are caused by car accidents, falls, or violence. This article will cover essential facts you should know about brain injuries.

 

What is a TBI?

A TBI is caused by a sudden jolt to the head that then disrupts the brain’s functioning. The severity can range from mild (for example, a brief change in consciousness) or severe (for example, an extended period of memory loss). The leading cause of a TBI is a concussion. You don’t necessarily need to lose consciousness to sustain a brain injury. 

 

What are the causes of a TBI? 

There are several causes of a brain injury. This may include: 

  • Falls. Falls are the leading cause of a TBI. They are common both in children and the elderly. In children, it can be due to falls or bikes, trampolines, or skateboards. In the elderly, it may be due to loss of balance. 
  • Being struck by an object. Being hit by an object is the second most common reason for sustaining a brain injury. This can occur when playing sports or occupational hazards. 
  • The third leading cause of a TBI is car accidents.
  • TBIs can also be caused by intentional self-harm.

 

What are the risks for TBI-related deaths? 

The most significant risk is age, with falls being the leading cause of death in 65 years of age and older. Males are more at risk than females.  

Along with self-harm, motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death, resulting in a TBI in younger populations. Wearing a seatbelt is important to prevent TBIs. The leading cause of TBI-related deaths for children is assaults such as shaken baby syndrome. Children also can sustain injuries from falls from bikes or skateboards, so wearing a helmet is critical in preventing injuries to the head. 

Both falls and motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of non-fatal related TBIs. Many of these patients are hospitalized and may need further recovery in a neurorehabilitation center. 

 

Other important facts regarding TBIs

  • We mentioned that concussions are a leading cause of brain injuries. But if an individual suffers a second concussion, it can cause additional damage to the brain. 
  • The most commonplace of injury is in the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the part of the brain responsible for thinking and emotional regulation. 
  • Most patients recover, but if it is a severe injury, they may require catastrophic rehabilitation.

 

Where can I learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation?

Neulife post-acute rehabilitation centers are experts in treating TBI patients. Through a patient-centered approach, we help patients manage their symptoms and help them progress to meet their rehabilitation goals. 

We focus both on the needs of every one of our patients and their families. This is accomplished through clinical evaluations, medical care, and therapeutic activities. Every treatment plan for our patients is customized with the goal to transition back to home.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a tour please contact us – we are looking forward to seeing you!

 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

 

 

How to Manage Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms Years Later

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) have severe short-term effects on daily life and can affect a person long-term, even years after the injury. Physical and emotional symptoms can be long-lasting, causing stress and frustration not just for the patient but also for family members. 

Some patients even report symptoms over 20 years after the injury. The leading cause of traumatic brain injuries are accidents (often car accidents) and falls by senior citizens, which pose unique challenges for rehabilitation. 

This article will focus on long-term brain injury symptoms and options for managing their symptoms with post-acute rehab

Why do Some Patients Experience Long-Term Symptoms?

After a TBI, the brain works to repair the damage. Sometimes the process happens relatively quickly, especially with rehabilitation. About a third of patients recover within the first six months of the injury, and the patient often returns to their pre-injury condition.

But, in other patients, parts of the brain cannot be repaired or may even decline. In these cases, it may result in long-term or even lifetime damage. These symptoms can also have a delay in onset. Often accompanying these symptoms are social and emotional symptoms that add to difficulties in recovery. 

What are the Long-Term Symptoms After a Brain Injury?

Some patients face chronic complications. Symptoms vary depending on the individual’s injury. Some symptoms include: 

  • Headaches and Migraines

Some patients find headaches and migraines worsen over time.

  • Sensitivity to Light and Noise

About a quarter of patients still experience sensitivity to light and noise (photophobia) one year after their injury.

  • Dizziness

Dizziness is one of the most common long-term symptoms after injury. At least one-fifth of patients experience the symptom five years after the injury. 

  • Visual Difficulties

Many patients with a TBI experience visual difficulties and still experience the symptom three years or more after their injury.

Other cognitive difficulties can include: 

  • Sleep
  • Time management
  • Attention and Concentration
  • Aggression
  • Personality changes
  • Depression and anxiety

Though more research needs to be completed, there seems to be a connection between severe TBIs, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Most researchers agree there is an increased risk of TBIs developing into these diseases. 

How to Treat Long-Term Symptoms of a TBI

The patient may require long-term rehabilitation at a neuro rehabilitation center. Rehabilitation therapists can continue to work with the patient to manage their symptoms. Sometimes the patient requires months at a neuro rehab center before transitioning home with ongoing outpatient services. 

Rehabilitation centers will continue to work with patients on basic skills such as walking or talking, getting dressed, and other activities of daily life. A team approach is often used to help the patient recover and get as close to everyday living as possible. The team includes:

  • Physiatrist– a doctor that specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Occupational therapist- helps the patient learn skills of daily living.
  • Physical therapist- helps the patient with mobility and learning skills such as balance and walking.
  • Speech and language therapist– helps the patient improve communication skills and use an assistive device if necessary.
  • Neuropsychologist- assesses cognitive impairment, helps the patient manage behaviors, and helps them learn coping skills.
  • Case managers help facilitate access to outpatient service agencies, assist in care decisions and planning, and facilitate communication with the family.
  • Nursing staff- Assist with ongoing care and help with implementing the treatment plan.
  • Recreational therapist– Assist with time management, movement, and leisure activities.
  • Vocational counselor- Helps to learn vocational skills and assists in returning to work. They help address common challenges TBI patients face once they return to a working environment.

Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation can not guarantee curing all long-term TBI symptoms, but they help reduce symptoms experienced.

Why You Should Choose Neulife for Neuro Rehabilitation

Neulife Rehab is one of Florida’s most extensive brain injury facilities and the southwest United States. Through rehabilitation, medical management, psychiatric, neurophysical services, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapies, and much more, we provide the best in care, so your loved one has the BEST POSSIBLE recovery. 

Schedule a tour to see our facility to decide if it may be appropriate for your loved one. Please reach out to us at 1-888-626-3876. We are always here to answer questions.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

Why Exercise is Important in the Rehabilitation of Brain Injury Patients

Research continues to support the importance of exercise in the rehabilitation of brain injury patients. 

For example, 90% of patients can exercise after a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), but patients are sometimes hesitant to experience a worsening of symptoms. Yet, what they may not know is that if patients do not exercise, it can lead to weight gain, depression, cardiovascular disease, or quitting positive habits they used to enjoy.

An exercise program is an essential part of neurological rehabilitation. Exercise will help patients gain strength and movement while improving cognitive functioning. Furthermore, it will also help patients experience an improvement in their mood while increasing self-esteem. 

This article will share the reasons why exercise contributes to the rehabilitation of brain injury patients. 

 

Neuroplasticity

Brain injury can significantly impair an individual’s brain function, causing different kinds of cognitive problems, such as:

  • Loss of memory or difficulty in remembering information
  • Difficulty in focus and concentration
  • Reduced speed of thought and information processing
  • Decreased learning ability
  • Impairment with problem-solving skills and visual perception

Not all patients with brain injury suffer from the same cognitive problems. However, most patients experience some form of impaired brain function.

Fortunately, research suggests that there’s a simple yet effective way to bring back mental wellness, and that’s through exercise. According to the study, exercise facilitates neuroplasticity in patients with brain injury. 

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to repair itself. The brain does this by forming new synapses or connections between neurons. How does exercise prompt neuroplasticity in brain injury patients? 

New connections form when stimulated by performing tasks and skills. Participation in a program such as strength or even mild aerobic exercises that are repetitive will promote neuron connections and recovery. 

Furthermore, aerobic exercises can help enhance hippocampal size, thus increasing spatial memory and the brain’s executive function.

 

Accelerated Healing

TBI patients can accelerate their recovery by participating in simple rehabilitation exercises. For example, strength exercises help patients gain strength, coordination, and balance. 

The following are some exercises that can improve strength and movement in TBI patients:

  • Seated hip internal and external rotation
  • Quad exercises
  • Hip abduction
  • Oblique crunches
  • Calf raises
  • Core toe taps
  • Bicep Curls
  • Shoulder flexion

Furthermore, exercise increases blood flow to the brain. When you exercise, your heart pumps blood to all areas of the body, including the brain. The increase in blood flow carries essential nutrients to the brain, promoting health and healing. 

Development of New Skills and Hobbies

With participation in exercise programs, patients find they have an improvement in mood. Many want to continue exercising even after most of their symptoms have subsided. 

Exercise affects neurotransmitters in the brain, which are the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons. Regular physical activity increases neurotransmitters, which helps brain injury patients process information faster and improves their mood! Because they feel well, patients want to continue exercising post-recovery. 

Thus, patients often establish a life-long exercise habit in post-acute rehabilitation. For a pattern to form, start by doing at least some of your brain rehabilitation exercises every day. Eventually, it will just become part of your routine!

 

best brain injury rehabilitation centers 1024x858 - Why Exercise is Important in the Rehabilitation of Brain Injury Patients

Improved Mental Health

According to a 2019 study, about 1 in 5 patients with mild traumatic brain injury can experience mental health symptoms and diseases after six months. Researchers identified that mild TBI increases one’s risk of developing disorders, like:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD
  • General anxiety disorder or anxiety attacks
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Chronic stress

One way to address this TBI side effect is through physical activity interventions and exercise programs. A growing number of studies suggest that exercise improves mood, enhances energy, and promotes social participation in individuals with brain injury.

Furthermore, participating in therapeutic physical activities has contributed to their fast rehabilitation, healing, and improved quality of life. Some of the exercises recommended by one study include aerobic activities, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong. 

5 Rehabilitative Exercises After Traumatic Brain Injury

The American Physical Therapy Association recommends recovering TBI patients engage in healthy physical activities. Regularly exercising for 20 to 40 minutes at least three times a week can significantly benefit one’s cognition and cardiovascular health. 

However, it’s essential to check with your doctor before participating in any exercise regime. It would also be more safe and efficient to seek guidance from your trusted traumatic brain injury rehabilitation center. 

Rehab centers have licensed therapists that can evaluate your health before recommending a therapeutic fitness routine. They also know the types of exercise that you can do based on your age, fitness condition, and physical and mental limitations. Here are some of the best activities you and your therapist may work on:

Cardiovascular

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises are workouts meant to increase the heart rate and respiration, thus strengthening the heart muscles and lung capacity. It also helps raise the oxygen levels in the body, keeping the blood circulation and the body’s systems healthy.

Aerobic exercises range from low impact to high intensity. For patients new to fitness activities, it’s important to start with mild to moderate intensity workouts, like walking and swimming. These two activities are easy to do but effectively build your endurance over time. Other exercises to try include:

  • Jogging or using the treadmill
  • Cycling or pedaling in a stationary bike
  • Dancing
  • Enrolling in aerobic classes

Strength Training

Strength or resistance training helps develop the body’s major muscle groups, thus promoting overall body strength. Additionally, this type of training encourages bone growth, manages weight and stress, and improves posture and balance. Some of the best routines to try include:

  • Quad exercise – assume the starting position by lying flat on your back with your knees bent on the floor. Then straighten both knees by bringing your toes upwards (facing towards the ceiling).
  • Squat exercise – start with a standing position where your legs should be shoulder-width apart. Next, send the hips back while bending the knees as if taking a seat. Keep your back straight, then hold the position. Then go back to the original standing position.

If this strength training seems too easy, you can add resistance bands or use free weights to enhance your body endurance workout. You can aim for at least 2 to 3 days of strength training per week to get all its benefits. Still, it will all depend on what your doctor recommends or your current condition.

Balance

Balance is a crucial ability to strengthen, especially for patients recovering from TBI. Balance training also helps you improve your body agility, coordination, and muscular strength. Additionally, improving balance reduces your risk of falling. Here are some workouts you can try to enhance your balance:

  • Weight shift 

You can start by shifting your weight from one foot to another. Start by standing with your feet apart. Then let your right foot take most of your weight by slightly lifting your left foot off the ground. Hold the position while maintaining a good form and posture for 30 seconds. Then repeat it on the left foot.

  • Standing on one leg 

For moderate balance training, you can try standing on one leg while lifting the other for at least 30 seconds. You can hold on to a chair for support then slowly remove it once you find your balance.

  • Heel to toe 

Assume a standing position with the heel of your left foot almost touching the toes of your right. It’s like you’re walking where your feet are lined up in front of the other. Hold this position for 30 seconds with your eyes closed for added difficulty.

Other activities that can help improve your balance include yoga, pilates, and tai-chi. Just make sure that you enroll in a session specifically meant for patients recovering from traumatic brain injury.

Flexibility

Flexibility workouts enhance your range of motion and develop joint strength and muscle abilities. Furthermore, regular flexibility training can help prevent muscle stiffness, ataxia, and spasticity, which are all common problems of TBI patients.

Flexibility exercises are simply stretching routines that you can easily do throughout the day. For example, you can do a knee-to-chest stretch on your bed after waking up. Or you can perform a shoulder stretch (reaching one arm across the body and using the other to hold it) before your morning walk routine.

Just make sure to start your stretches slow and only up to the point of tightness, not pain.

Successful Brain Injury Residential Facilities Include Exercise Rehab- Including Neulife

If you have been searching for the best inpatient neuro rehab near me, then you or your loved one can benefit from the services we provide at NeuLife.

Neulife Rehabilitation is one of the largest brain injury rehabilitation centers located in Florida. Exercise is just one component of what we offer to ensure a successful recovery from a brain injury.

At our neurological rehabilitation center, we specialize in rehabilitating a wide range of injuries and focusing on quality care individualized to patients’ needs. Some of the programs  and services we provide include:

We encourage you to reach out to learn more about our facility and programs. 

If you have any questions, we are here for you! Call us or make a referral through our convenient online form. We look forward to being a part of your recovery! 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

What are the 10 Recovery Stages After a Brain Injury?

Recovering from a brain injury can be a long process. Patients go through various stages of rehabilitation and recovery. Patients that can transition through each stage increase the likelihood of healing, with the ultimate goal of moving the patient as close as possible to their pre-injury condition.

Generally, there may be ten stages that a patient with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may experience or progress through. Of course, every patient is different, and some stages may not apply to every patient. That said, this article will focus on the stages based on the Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning.

1. Coma

A coma allows the brain to heal; uninterrupted. With a severe injury, the patient may remain in a coma for some time. This is considered the first stage of recovery. 

What is a coma? It is the deepest state of unconsciousness. Generally, coma patients have no eye movement, no purposeful movement, and lack speech and communication. The patient is unresponsive to the environment and does not wake, even with stimulation. 

Comas can last from weeks to months or even years.

After awakening from a coma, the patient may move through further stages towards recovery. 

2. Vegetative state

Comas and a vegetative state are not the same as they are different states of consciousness. Neurological responses differ. Patients in a coma have no neurological response, while those in a vegetative state may have regained some reflexes. 

In a vegetative state, the patient may appear awake. You may see eye movement and reaction to stimulation. The cause is from responses in the brain that remain intact after injury. But also because areas of the brain have begun to heal. 

Once patients react and can communicate, they move to the next stage of recovery. 

3. Minimally Conscious

Patients may come in and out of consciousness when they are in this stage. The significant improvement seen in this stage is awareness of people and surroundings. When in this stage, medications can help stimulate the brain to regain consciousness. 

As the patient responds to instructions and communication, they move toward recovery. 

4. Post-Traumatic Amnesia

Post-traumatic amnesia is the stage after the patient emerges from a coma. They may experience a state of amnesia upon awakening. 

There are two types of amnesia:

  • Retrograde amnesia with the inability to remember past events
  • Anterograde amnesia where there is the inability to form new memories, including of day to day events

Some patients may show behavior changes in this stage. They may be aggressive or show other signs of inappropriate behavior. Patients can lose their sense of inhibition, especially if the frontal lobe experienced an injury. 

Once patients can consistently remember daily events and amnesia diminishes, the patient is then usually ready to begin neurorehabilitation at a rehab facility where true healing and recovery begins. 

5. Inappropriate Behaviors

While in this stage, patients can have difficulty focusing on tasks and may be confused. It can be challenging for them to respond during communication or express inaccurate communication that may not make sense. 

If you would like to learn more about inappropriate behavior after TBI, check out our blog post on brain injury and inappropriate behavior.

6. Confusion 

During this stage, the patient may be able to follow more commands from staff and communicate. Memory issues often still exist, and focusing on tasks can be challenging. 

 

7. Automatic and Appropriate

When a patient advances to this stage in their recovery, they can begin to follow a schedule and complete some daily life activities independently. This is an essential stage in post-acute rehabilitation as they can participate in important rehab recovery efforts, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.  

 

8. Purposeful

At this stage, the patient has had improvement in awareness and memory. Patients may continue to struggle with social interaction, reaction time, and handling unexpected situations that are not part of their routine. 

That said, they often have made much improvement in coping skills and sometimes may be able to graduate from a rehabilitation facility and return home. 

Screenshot 2019 06 24 at 17.29.07 1024x853 - What are the 10 Recovery Stages After a Brain Injury?

9 and 10: Purposeful and Independence

The TBI patient has gained function in the final stages and can perform most tasks independently. They likely will need to have continued rehabilitation for brain injury but do not require the full assistance of a neurorehabilitation center. 

During this final stage, some patients have a full recovery and can handle daily life activities on their own. However, their cognition may remain slower than pre-injury they usually do well with and can participate in outpatient neuro services if necessary. 

 

Why Choose Neulife for Inpatient Neuro Rehabilitation?

Neulife Rehab is one of Florida’s most extensive brain injury facilities and the southwest United States. Neulife is CARF-accredited (Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) in Brain Injury Specialty Programs and Residential Rehabilitation. 

Through rehabilitation, medical management, psychiatric, neurophysical services, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapies, and much more, we provide the best in care so your loved one has the BEST POSSIBLE recovery. 

Schedule a tour to see our facility to decide if it may be appropriate for your loved one. We are always here to answer questions. Please reach out to us at 1-888-626-3876.

 

 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health

Why Patients Have Balance Problems After a Traumatic Brain Injury

Balance concerns can challenge both the patient and caregivers after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Over half of TBI patients experience some level of dizziness or balance concerns. 

Some patients feel like they might faint, that their surroundings are moving even though they are standing still, or feel light-headed. 

Many factors determine the severity of balance problems, including injury severity, part of the brain-damaged, or medications. Other patients, such as those injured in a car accident, may have balance issues due to other injuries the body has sustained. 

 

What is the Importance of Balance for TBI Patients?

The most significant reason balance is concerning for TBI patients is because of the risk of falls. Older patients may already have difficulties with balance, even without a TBI. Add in a brain injury, and their risk of falls significantly increases. 

Falls are concerning because they can cause injuries that may delay recovery and rehabilitation. Some patients even have a second TBI resulting in second impact syndrome

 

Why is second impact syndrome a concern? It can result in cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and even death. 

Also, balance is essential for a patient to be able to participate in daily life. Balance can affect sitting, standing, walking, and self-care. Some patients have challenges with bathing, using the toilet, and the ability to dress. 

 

How Do Providers Diagnose Balance Problems?

Professionals at post-acute rehabilitation centers are specialists in diagnosing balance concerns after a TBI. Doctors who focus on the nervous system and the brain can usually quickly identify the issue to develop a treatment plan as soon as possible to reduce the risk of falls. 

A team approach is the best approach! Physical therapists are key for identifying and rehabilitating patients who have had a TBI. 

Occupational therapists also use balance tests to specify the severity of balance issues and provide interventions to reduce the risk of falls. Other staff are educated on patients’ individual needs regarding balance issues so they may safely help patients who are in recovery. 

 

What Can Treatment Providers do to Help Patients with Balance Problems?

The treatment team can use several interventions to help patients with balance problems, including: 

  • Determine their balance limits. Safely working with a therapist can teach movements to help with transitioning positions, such as sitting to standing.
  • Sit at a level that is safe, not too high, or too low.
  • Therapy can help to teach patients how to safely stand, reach objects at a high level correctly, or pick something down on the floor if dropped.
  • Patients can work with a physical therapist on strength and flexibility in their lower body. Improved strength decreases the risk of falls. 
  • Practice standing and walking in a safe environment. One exercise includes practicing standing with your eyes closed, so you decrease dependence on vision. Patients practice bringing feet together and apart or practice standing on one leg with the help of a therapist. 
  • Walking in a safe environment can also be beneficial. Patients can build up the length of time they walk and distance as they improve. 

It is important to remember every patient is different. Some have relief of balance problems soon after starting a program, while it can take months or even years for others. 

Continuing to work on a program is important for both short-term and long-term recovery. We cannot stress enough how important it is to have patience while your loved one is working to rebuild and restore balance problems. 

neulife posting 3 - Why Patients Have Balance Problems After a Traumatic Brain Injury

Finding the Best Help for Inpatient Neuro Rehab Near Me

Neulife specializes in the treatment of TBI patients and the many symptoms they experience. Through a safe and specialized approach, they can help patients with their symptoms, such as balance. 

The program at Neulife focuses on the needs of every patient and their family. Our rehabilitation for brain injury includes clinical evaluations, medical care, and therapeutic activities, all customized to meet each patient’s goals, needs, and abilities. 

Every component of the treatment plan is customized to the individual patient for guaranteed results so patients can transition home safely.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a tour around our modern, beautifully situated on 43 acres in Mount Dora, Florida, patient-friendly facility, please do contact us – we are looking forward to seeing you!

 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.