Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment and Rehabilitation
Injuries to the brain may change things forever, but it's important to know the steps of traumatic brain injury treatment and rehabilitation, and how it can help after an accident.
A brain injury is often referred to as the “silent killer” because they are extremely common and yet never discovered until severe symptoms appear. Mild and severe brain injuries may occur due to the negligence or malicious actions of another person.
Road accidents, medical malpractice, slips and falls are common causes for brain injuries to occur due to the actions of another person. These injuries are often distressing life experiences that cause a significant burden on the victim and their loved ones.
Thus, timely traumatic brain injury treatment and detect can prevent irreparable damage that leads to a compromised quality of life.
Diagnosis of Injury
A brain injury can occur in many situations. A fall down the staircase, slipping on a wet surface, traffic collisions and so on. In each of these situations, head injuries may occur along with other damage. The following symptoms can be detected in a person with a potential brain injury:
--- Unconsciousness (for a few minutes or longer)
--- Blurred vision
--- Ringing in the ears
--- Headache (often as a persistent pain for days)
--- Slurred speech
1. The Glasgow Coma Scale
The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) helps to assess the severity of the brain injury. It is a test that checks a number of brain functions including:
--- Ability to follow directions
--- Ability to move eyes and limbs
--- Coherent speech
The test scores the person’s consciousness and neurological abilities from 3 to 15.
A person with a score of 13 to 15 may have a mild brain injury.
Lower scores such as those between 9 to 12 or 8 and lower correspond to moderate and severe brain injuries respectively.
2. Imaging Tests
Imaging tests can reveal the exact nature of the damage. CT (computerized tomography) scans are performed to get a detailed view of the brain. Such scans can reveal contusions, brain tissue swelling, blood clots (hematoma) and internal bleeding (hemorrhage).
Once the person’s condition has stabilized or symptoms do not disappear completely, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan may be done. This test uses powerful radio waves and magnets to create a detailed scan.
Initial Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment
Traumatic brain injury treatment depends on the severity of damage. If a person displays symptoms of a mild brain injury (such as a mild concussion while playing a sport), the person may not require any treatment aside from complete physical and mental rest.
However, even in the cases of mild injury, it is advisable to check for the full extent of damages. An ignored brain injury can result in severe consequences. The injured person may be rushed to the physician to check for the severity of damage.
Over the weeks, the symptoms can be monitored at home and the normal routine can resume once the person has recovered completely.
Below are three tiers of traumatic brain injury treatment.
1. Immediate Emergency Care
Moderate and severe brain injuries must be attended to immediately. If you are at the site of the injury, ensure that the person is lying face up and still with the head and shoulders slightly raised. If there is excessive bleeding (and no suspicion of a skull fracture) apply firm pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.
The person must be rushed to the emergency room or intensive care unit of a hospital as soon as possible. Here, the first priority of emergency care is to maintain their blood pressure and ensure the person has enough oxygen and blood supply. They will then focus on minimizing secondary damage such as further injuries, inflammation, bleeding etc.
The next step of traumatic brain injury treatment occurs after the person arrives at emergency care. Depending on the damage caused to the brain, the hospital may use some medication to control certain factors:
— Pressure Inside the Brain: Diuretics are often given intravenously to reduce pressure in the brain. This is crucial to ensure the brain receives enough oxygen.
— Limited Supply of Oxygen: If there is a limited supply of oxygen in the brain, the person may be put in a temporary coma using coma-inducing drugs. This is because a comatose brain survives on less oxygen.
— Seizures: Brain injury victims are at the risk of having seizures for a few days after the injury. This can result in further brain damage. Doctors may use anti-seizure drugs during this time to avoid the occurrence of seizures.
In severe cases of brain injury, a surgery can minimize the damage done to the brain tissue. The following cases of brain damage may need an emergency surgery:
— Hematomas: Blood clots (hematomas) are due to excessive bleeding outside or within the brain. Hematomas can not only cause damage to brain tissue but also put pressure on the brain.
— Skull Fracture: Severe fractures must be attended to immediately. A doctor may perform surgery to remove pieces of the skull from the brain.
— Bleeding: Excessive bleeding within the brain can cause serious damage (or death). It is essential to stop the bleeding before there is irreparable damage.
— Pressure: Opening a ‘window’ in the skull may relieve excessive pressure in the brain. This drains out accumulated cerebral spinal fluid and provides room for swollen tissues.
Rehabilitation After Brain Injury
If a brain injury has resulted in temporary disability, the injured person may need rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury treatment.
The goal of rehabilitation is to gradually improve the abilities of the patient. Basic skills such as talking and walking can be relearned in a rehabilitation center. Depending on the severity of disability and damage, the rehabilitation period varies for each person.
What is a Rehabilitation Team?
The following professionals are usually a part of the team that works on improving the condition of the patient:
The psychiatrist is in charge of the person’s successful rehabilitation. They are trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Apart from overseeing the entire process, this doctor can also prescribe the necessary medication during the program. They also prescribe the necessary traumatic brain injury treatment and direct the entire rehabilitation team.
Brain injuries can often cause difficulties with cognitive functions. A neuropsychologist helps the person work on these basic functions.
These include improving attention, concentration, memory, decision-making, communication and behavioral abnormalities.
3. Rehabilitation Nurse
Nursing care is essential during this difficult time. A rehabilitation nurse assists the patient in adapting to their altered lifestyle.
Their priority is to ensure the person’s health is at its optimum level. They provide ongoing rehabilitation care and services to ensure the patient receives sufficient nutrition, sleep, bowel and bladder consistency, etc.
4. Occupational Therapist
An occupational therapist helps patients who are unable to perform everyday activities (such as dressing, showering, etc.). They help the injured person relearn and improve such skills.
The occupational therapist prepares the person to be independent after the rehabilitation program. Their aim is to ensure the person is able to do simple activities such as cooking, banking and shopping. In some cases, they may also prepare the person for vocational skills.
5. Physical Therapist
Depending on the part of the brain that suffers from damage, the injury may restrict some physical movement. The responsibility of a physical therapist is to minimize any pain or paralysis that affects the body.
They examine and treat musculoskeletal and neuromuscular problems. If a person is unable to walk, the physical therapist helps the person to begin walking and moving normally.
The training includes ensuring the right posture, balance, strength, coordination and spontaneity of movement.
Tips for Caregivers
When a loved one suffers a brain injury the whole family goes through a difficult time. The caregiver is responsible for the post-rehabilitation recovery of the injured person. They must make sure of the following:
- A Daily Routine: Establishing an everyday structure improves the victim’s cognitive health due to consistency in activities and their times.
- Boost Confidence: Those who have suffered the injury often feel helpless during the recovery period. Caregivers must not limit their experience of some choice and control.
- Boost Self-Esteem: Encourage and praise the small victories of the injured person. Pressure to improve and recover may result in depression if results do not come quickly.
- Meaningful Activities: Once the person has recovered from the injury, caregivers must coax them into getting out of bed and engage in meaningful activities. In some cases, they may feel capable enough to return to work. For those who are unable to join the workforce, volunteer work or household chores can give them a sense of purpose.
- Self-Care: Finally, it is also essential for caregivers to look after themselves. In this tough situation, the equation of give and take is often skewed. Caregivers may be frustrated due to the amount of effort that is suddenly demanded in the situation. To avoid getting burnt-out, they must ensure they take care of themselves. Reaching out for help from a support group or close family and friends is always a great idea.
Most importantly, a brain injury lawyer must be consulted shortly after the injury has occurred. Apart from the emotional damage of such an experience, treatment and recovery of brain injuries are an expensive affair. A lawsuit can help the family recover compensation settlements for their financial losses that occurred during traumatic brain injury treatment.
The team of attorneys at Nehora Law understand the traumatic experience of a brain injury. Contact our firm to successfully recover the compensation you deserve and ensure the negligent party is held responsible for their actions.