No products in the cart.

Brain Injury Paralysis Recovery: Treatments and Techniques to Help You Regain Mobility

A how to guide to brain injury paralysis recovery

When the brain sustains damage to areas that contribute to muscle function, weakness or paralysis can occur. Fortunately, it is usually possible to treat these conditions to recover at least some degree of muscle use after brain injury.

To help you take charge of your recovery, we have listed the best treatments for brain injury paralysis below. Consult with your therapist and experiment with the methods that resonate with you.

Before we discuss treatments, it will help to understand the causes behind brain injury paralysis.

Causes of Brain Injury Paralysis

Unlike paralysis due to spinal cord injury, which results from severing the spinal cord, brain injury paralysis is caused by poor communication between your brain and muscles. It occurs due to damage to the parts of the brain in charge of muscle control.

Because brain injuries typically only affect one side of the brain, paralysis tends to likewise occur on only one side of the body. For example, if the left side of the brain sustains an injury, the right side of the body may become paralyzed. This condition is known as hemiplegia.

Hemiplegia occurs because each side of the brain controls movement on the opposite side of the body. Certain parts of the brain send a complex array of signals to the muscles in the body, enabling you to move them on command.

However, when a TBI damages these areas of the brain, those signals can become interrupted. As a result, the muscles are not able to respond to the brain’s directions, and paralysis can set in.

This lack of communication may cause other effects too. Some common symptoms that often accompany brain injury paralysis include:

Fortunately, if you can restore communication between your brain and muscles, then you can begin to regain control of your movement. To do this, you must activate your brain’s neuroplasticity.

The Role of Neuroplasticity in Brain Injury Paralysis Recovery

therapist teaching TBI patient about neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the mechanism your brain uses to reorganize nerve cells and form new neural pathways. These new neural pathways then allow healthy, undamaged portions of the brain to take over control from damaged areas.

Therefore, by engaging neuroplasticity, you can create neural pathways between your brain and muscles. This, in turn, will restore the communication to your muscles and should reduce paralysis and weakness after brain injury.

To activate neuroplasticity, you must engage in consistent, therapeutic exercise. The more you practice an activity, such as moving your arm, the more it reinforces new neural pathways. And the more you strengthen those pathways, the stronger the connection between your brain and muscles will become.

However, this poses a dilemma for brain injury patients with paralysis. To recover their movement, patients must engage neuroplasticity, but to engage neuroplasticity, patients must move their muscles. Fortunately, there are other ways to activate neuroplasticity that do not require active movement.

How to Recover from Brain Injury Paralysis

You can increase your chances of recovering from brain injury paralysis by following these effective treatment methods.

The following treatments can help activate neuroplasticity and encourage muscle movement to return after brain injury.

1. Passive Range-of-Motion Exercises

Therapist performing passive range of motion exercises on patient to aid his brain injury paralysis recovery

Passive range-of-motion exercises are an effective way to activate neuroplasticity. With this technique, therapists move your affected arms and legs for you. As simple as this sounds, it will significantly aid your brain injury paralysis recovery.

In fact, recent research shows that passive movement activates the same parts of the brain that active movement does, and even triggers neuroplasticity. This reestablishes communication with your mind and muscles, which can reduce paralysis and increase muscle function. Eventually, you might recover enough strength to move on your own again.

In addition, passive range of motion exercises also keep your muscles flexible and prevent contractures from developing. This makes it critical for preventing further loss of function.

2. Mental Practice

mental practice can help with your brain injury paralysis recovery

The advantage of mental practice is that it’s accessible for paralyzed individuals.

Mental practice involves visualizing yourself performing a movement that you want to perform. The practice requires no actual movement.

Although you aren’t doing the movements in reality, the mental practice still helps activate neuroplasticity and rewire the brain. Then, when you couple mental practice with physical therapy (i.e. paralysis exercises), you can see incredible benefits.

In fact, studies show that combining mental practice with physical practice or passive range-of-motion exercise helps improve mobility in TBI patients.

3. Electrical Stimulation

Therapist placing electrodes on patient's legs as part of their brain injury paralysis recovery

Electrical stimulation is another way to encourage your brain to rewire itself and improve muscle movement.

It works by sending an electrical impulse directly to your affected muscles, causing them to contract. This stimulates the brain and activates neuroplasticity.

Combine electrical stimulation with passive exercise to get the best results. In addition, attempting to activate your muscles when you feel the electric pulse can increase the benefits.

While you can do e-stim from the comfort of your own home once you’ve been trained on it, we recommend trying it under your therapist’s supervision first. They can show you the best places to put the electrodes and how to safely operate the machine.

4. Mirror Box Therapy

TBI patient trying mirror box therapy

This therapy may help you recover from hand paralysis after brain injury.

To practice mirror therapy, place a mirror over your affected hand and then perform some hand therapy exercises with your non-paralyzed hand. This activates mirror neurons in the premotor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement.

Essentially, mirror therapy tricks the brain into thinking it is moving your paralyzed hand, which activates neuroplasticity. Surprisingly, after consistent practice, you may notice your affected hand starting to twitch or move in response. If this does not happen at first, it may come with time.

This therapy is only effective if you have one strong side, however. If paralysis affects both sides of your body, the other treatments we suggested will be more appropriate.

Learn more about mirror box therapy for hand recovery »

5. Active Exercise

active exercise for brain injury paralysis treatment

The more you use the therapies suggested in this article, the stronger the connection between your brain and muscles will become. Eventually, you should regain minimal movement in your affected limb. Once you can move a bit, you must engage in repetitive, active exercises to continue strengthening those neural pathways.

As you practice these repetitions, you will trigger substantial changes in your brain, which can help you regain further function. Therefore, if you want to recover from brain injury paralysis faster, focus on high repetition.

One of the best ways to get results is to try Flint Rehab’s FitMi home therapy device. It’s designed to help you accomplish the high repetition necessary to see results. In fact, FitMi helped a stroke survivor with arm paralysis experience twitches in his affected arm for the first time after three weeks of daily FitMi use.

Brain Injury Paralysis Recovery: Conclusion

The five techniques listed in this article are some of the most evidence-based treatments used in brain injury paralysis recovery. However, it is important to remember that every brain injury is unique. Therefore, what works for one person may not work for another.

We can’t guarantee you’ll see results as quickly as others have, but we can guarantee that you won’t make any progress if you never try. Therefore, continue stimulating your brain with passive and active exercises as much as possible. Sooner or later, your hard work will pay off.

And above all, never lose hope. No matter what anyone tells you, it is always possible to stimulate the brain and encourage improvements.

Keep it going: Do you know these 15 essential TBI recovery tips?

If you like our content, you’ll love our ebook and newsletters! Get instant access to our TBI recovery tips ebook with 20 pages of helpful advice by signing up below.

You’ll also receive our emails that share survivor stories and more useful TBI recovery tips, which you can opt out of at any time. (We know you’ll love them, too.)

We will never sell your email address, and we never spam. That we promise.

More Ways to Recover with Flint Rehab:

Download Free TBI Recovery Tips!

15 Things Every TBI Survivor Must Know

Discover Award-Winning Neurorehab Tools

You're on a Roll: Read More Popular Articles on TBI Recovery

Do you want to sharpen your cognitive skills after a TBI?

Time with a speech therapist is extremely valuable during recovery, especially if you struggle with communication, critical thinking, or memory after brain injury. Insurance typically covers speech therapy for a fixed amount of time. But once it’s over, recovery is in your hands.

That’s why two speech therapists came together to create the CT Speech & Cognitive therapy app. It contains over 100,000 cognitive exercises that are all available right from your phone or tablet. 

This app is the perfect fit if you want to improve your speaking, memory, or general mental sharpness. Best of all, it’s affordable at just $29.99/month.

Click here to learn more about the CT app »

See what Miriam said about the CT Speech & Cognitive Therapy app:

“For the past 6 months, my son has used the app about three times a week. The app is like a virtual therapist, it’s very easy to use, and it gives him immediate feedback.

He now understands things faster, can make decisions with less hesitation, has improved recognition of words, and his confidence is higher. I also find it easy to get in touch with customer service; they pleasantly help out. The whole experience has been great.”

— Miriam

It’s like having a virtual speech therapist available anytime you want

With the CT App, you can get the guidance you need right from your phone or tablet. You can use it on your own or in between sessions with your speech therapist.

Whether you struggle with aphasia, memory loss, or critical thinking, the CT Speech & Cognitive Therapy App can help.

“The CT app has helped me gather my confidence by building on and reinforcing old forgotten skills. It helps to see my percentages increase, and work harder when they decrease. It’s very self-motivating.” -Kathryn

We are confident that this app will help improve your speech and cognitive function after brain injury. Like our recovery tools, the CT App is also covered by our 30-day money-back guarantee.

15 Things Every TBI Survivor Must Know

Do you know these 15 TBI recovery tips?

Get a free copy of our ebook 15 Things Every TBI Survivor Must Know. Click here to get instant access.