FAQ’s on Brain Injuries by Charles Watson

Posted on December 12, 2019

Brain injuries, unlike wounds, or other diseases and conditions, cannot be fully understood. The extent of damage to the brain can be assessed only through brain scans like MRI or CT scan, and most importantly, there can be other conditions that may be triggered on because of a brain injury. 

If you have never had to face TBI or ABI in your lifetime or had a loved one suffer from one, then you are amongst the lucky ones because the emotional trauma attached to it can be overwhelming.

Here are some FAQ’s:

How is the severity of brain injury determined?

Brain injuries are usually classified as mild, moderate, and severe. The extent of damage to the brain and the effects of neurological injury on other body systems can indicate the severity of the injury. Severe head injury victims often experience coma, medical treatment in ICU and then moved onto rehabilitation. 

Most importantly, the location of the injury determines the severity. Injury to the brain stem may cause problems in mobility, motor control, and performing normal daily activities. Frontal lobe injuries affect thinking and behavioral functions. 

How much can a person expect to recover from a severe brain injury?

This will depend on the areas of the brain injured and the extent of the injury. In the period of time just after the injury, the brain tries to repair the damaged neurons. This may take from days to weeks and may extend into months. Basically, after medical intervention, which may include neurosurgery and medications, begins the process of bringing the individual back to their routine. 

However, since a brain injury can cause cognitive, physiologic, emotional, psychological, and behavioral changes, medical rehabilitation should begin as soon as possible. This includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

How does rehabilitation play an important role in recovery?

Early on, rehabilitation focuses on speeding up the natural recovery process. The focus then shifts towards making the person re-learn the lost skills and functions. Then comes, adaptive strategies to solve problems that a person may face during recovery. Rehabilitation for severe brain injury victims can be an ongoing process and require support from home, community, workplaces, and schools. Since no two brain injuries are alike, the pace of recovery varies in individuals, not to forget underlying medical or other conditions. 

However, the goal of rehabilitation is to aid a person to return to a life of self-worth, independence, and dignity. 

Can mild or moderate brain injury have long-lasting effects?

Brain injuries that do not cause loss of consciousness escape the battery of tests that can gauge any damage to the brain. But, mild brain injuries can produce problems long after, maybe years after the initial injury, and can affect many aspects of a person’s life.

The most dangerous effect may be a “personality change” that manifests itself later than physical and cognitive problems. These include depression and anxiety, changes in sleeping habits, heightened fears, change in temperament, increased levels of fatigue, and increased or decreased sexual drive. 

Some individuals may resort to drug or alcohol abuse, something that they are unlikely to do prior to the injury. Others may end up under psychiatric care, due to severe psychological reactions or PTSD that trigger symptoms of an underlying psychiatric disease that was yet undetected.