Brain Injury: FAQ
What is a brain injury?
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) occur when a sudden movement, such as a blow to the head, shakes the brain. Brain tissue is composed of billions of neural circuits that transmit information necessary for human behavior. When the brain is injured, there is a disruption of the transmission of information caused by a stretching and shearing of these neural circuits. Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild (commonly referred to as concussions) to severe. The most common cause of traumatic brain injuries is automobile accidents. People can also sustain brain injuries through sporting accidents, falls and physical assaults. Injury to the brain can also be caused in non-traumatic ways, including problems with blood supply (ischemia, hemorrhage and aneurysm), tumors and anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain).
Recovery from brain injury can be a long-term process. Support from family, friends and employers improves the chances of recovery. It's important that a person with a brain injury choose a program or facility that can handle not only their treatment but also their return home.
Are all TBIs the same?
How does a brain injury affect communication?
Language is the use of words/sentences to convey ideas. Changes in language may occur in the following ways:
A speech-language pathologist can provide speech and language therapy for these deficits. Learn more about Good Shepherd’s Speech and Communication Program.
What is “cognition” and how is it affected by a brain injury?
What is “dysphagia”?
What happens when it's time for person with a brain injury to go home?
Families can assist with this process by being available to the rehabilitation team and care managers to discuss needs for discharge. When the patient goes home it is important that the family sticks to the rehabilitation instructions. For example, it may seem like a good idea to force a person with a TBI to remember appointments, dates, etc., but generally this will lead to frustration and agitation and, eventually, failure. A better way to assist in memory is to use logs, date books and lists of things to do. These tools are often taught and initiated in the rehabilitation hospital and should be followed through at home to ensure continued success with the rehabilitation process. It is important to establish and keep a routine as much as possible in the home.
Keeping consistent mealtimes, bedtimes and chores are some ways to maintain such a routine. Avoid trying to make up for lost time with overwhelming day trips to relatives, shopping trips or activities. The person with a TBI may need minimal stimulation as he or she re-enters a home and community setting. It will also help to take up offers from close friends to provide relief for family caregivers. If possible, use a few different friends who understand the patient's needs.
How is sexuality affected by a brain injury?
When a person has a TBI, the concept of sexuality is often brushed aside, in part because health-care providers may be uncomfortable addressing sexuality issues. Caregivers are often providing care that involves intimate activities such as bathing and the patient has little or no privacy.
Individuals with TBI may have impaired judgment and may be impulsive. It is common that in an environment with impaired cognition, inappropriate sexual comments or behavior occurs. Caregivers should recognize that these actions are an expression of a basic need and should not take these comments personally.
After a person with a TBI leaves the rehabilitation facility, it is important to establish leisure time and social time. Social problems are at the top of the list of problems for individuals with TBI five years after the injury. Friends and family may have drifted away after the injury and through the hospitalizations. It is important for the person with the TBI to re-establish relationships or form a new circle of friends. Relationships are easier to establish in leisure settings.
How will my child's educational program change?
What's the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy for TBI patients?
Occupational therapy helps patients regain the skills needed for daily life and work. An occupational therapist evaluates a patient's ability to perform tasks such as dressing, grooming, bathing and home and management skills such as shopping, cooking, budgeting and leisure activities. Occupational therapists also assess how the individual perceives and interacts with their environment.
Will the patient be able to walk again?