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Severe TBI Recovery: Symptoms, Treatments, and Timeline

the ultimate guide to severe tbi recovery

A severe TBI can cause serious side effects and will require intensive rehabilitative therapy.

To help with your severe TBI recovery journey, we’ll show you some of the best treatment options available.

We’ll also discuss the effects of severe TBI and how long your recovery might take.

Let’s get started!

What Is Considered a Severe TBI?

A severe TBI is a brain injury that results in a loss of consciousness longer than six hours, and a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 3 to 8 points.

The impact that a severe TBI will have on a person depends on a few factors, including the severity of the initial injury, the areas of the brain affected, and how early the person begins treatment.

The earlier treatment begins, the better the chances of recovery.

Side Effects of Severe TBI

A severe TBI affects nearly every aspect of a person’s health and abilities. Some of the most common effects are:

  1. Cognitive deficits
  2. Speech and language problems
  3. Sensory problems
  4. Visual and perceptual problems
  5. Paralysis and/or spasticity
  6. Social and emotional problems

These effects are all very serious conditions, but you can treat many of them with the right rehab approach.

Best Approaches to Severe TBI Recovery

The main goal in severe TBI recovery is restoring your abilities.

You can do that by taking the right approaches during your therapy sessions.

Here are some of the best methods to reverse the effects of severe TBI and promote recovery.

1. Passive Range-of-Motion Exercises

passive exercise is ideal during severe tbi recovery

Sometimes a severe TBI leads to significant weakness on one or both sides of your body. It can also cause spasticity in your muscles, making them difficult to move.

Interestingly, the root cause behind these conditions is the same. They are all a result of bad communication between your brain and your muscles.

This means to regain movement, you will need to work on rewiring your brain so that communication between your brain and muscles will improve.

Luckily, your brain already possesses a natural ability to do just that!

Researchers call this skill neuroplasticity. It’s the method your brain uses rewire itself and create new neural pathways.

You can help activate neuroplasticity through intensive, high repetition physical therapy exercises for brain injury recovery.

As you practice these exercises, they reinforce new neural pathways. The more you strengthen these pathways, the more communication between your brain and muscles will improve.

Eventually, you will regain the muscle strength and movement you lost after your injury!

But how do you do these exercises if your muscles are so weak or spastic that they are effectively paralyzed?

This is where passive range-of motion exercises come in.

With passive exercise, somebody else moves your body through each exercise.

The cool thing is, even though you aren’t technically doing things yourself, you’re still activating neuroplasticicity.

Eventually, with enough passive exercise, you can start exercising independently again.

2. Sensory Reeducation

severe tbi patients may have numbness after injury

Sensory problems after a severe TBI are fairly common. These problems can include numbness, tingling or burning sensations, and trouble feeling hot or cold.

The reason you might experience these problems is because your brain has essentially “forgot” how to interpret your senses.

Therefore, treating sensory problems will once again involve repetitive exercises that activating neuroplasticity to retrain your brain.

This time, you will use sensory reeducation exercises that will help your brain relearn how to interpret different sensation.

The more consistently and repetitively you practice these exercises, the sooner you will improve your senses.

Noticing a pattern yet? Activating neuroplasticity through exercise treats almost any TBI symptom!

3. Speech Therapy

speech therapy exercises are perfect for severe tbi patients

The best way to treat aphasia after TBI is to practice intensive speech therapy exercises under the guidance of a speech therapist.

If your aphasia is so severe you cannot even utter a single word, you can always try singing therapy.

Singing therapy involves singing simple words or phrases to the tune of familiar melodies. With enough practice, patients can turn their singing speech into normal speech.

This treatment may be more helpful for severe TBI survivors.

How Long Will Severe TBI Recovery Last?

Now that we have covered some of the best severe TBI recovery methods, you are probably wondering how long this whole process will last.

The short answer is: how long your TBI recovery timeline lasts will partly depend on how severe your injury is.

In general, the more severe your TBI is, the longer it will take to recover.

With that said, here are a few more facts to keep in mind about severe TBI recovery time:

  • Most TBI patients who persevere with therapy will regain significant function after 2 years.
  • The more rigorous your therapy program, the faster your recovery will be.
  • Doctors try to prepare their patients for the worst-case scenario. This means they usually overestimate how long recovery take and underestimate how many abilities you will recovery.

Hopefully, this helps you get an idea of how long your severe TBI recovery will last and what you need to do to speed up your recovery time.

Understanding Severe TBI Recovery

A severe TBI is a serious medical condition that can have a devastating effect on a person’s life.

But thankfully, with the right interventions and enough persistence, it is possible to treat these effects!

We hope this article has given you the tools you need to succeed with your severe TBI recovery, and we wish you luck on the journey ahead.

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