No products in the cart.

No products in the cart.

Moderate Brain Injury: Understanding the Effects & Recovery Process

doctor holding brain scan for moderate brain injury survivor

Traumatic brain injuries can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Moderate brain injury makes up only about 10 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. Secondary effects of moderate brain injury vary depending on the location of damage, and can include cognitive, physical and emotional changes. While some effects can be permanent, many individuals are able to experience a positive recovery from moderate brain injury.

Most studies focus on either mild or severe traumatic brain injuries. Furthermore, when moderate brain injury is studied, it is often paired with severe brain injury. This makes it challenging to fully understand moderate brain injury and how to recover from it. For a deeper understanding of moderate brain injury, this article will explore:

What is Considered a Moderate Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury occurs when an individual experiences a blow to the head or body that results in brain damage. Although there are multiple diagnostic options to identify the severity of a TBI, the Glasgow Coma Scale is widely used due to its simplicity. Responses in three areas (eye opening, verbal, and motor) are measured, resulting in a score of 3-15.

Scoring between 9 and 12 (or 13) on the Glasgow Coma Scale means that the individual has sustained a moderate brain injury. Oftentimes, those with a moderate brain injury experience a loss of consciousness for 30 minutes to 24 hours following their injury.

Common causes of moderate brain injury include falls and motor vehicle accidents, with one large study connecting these incidents to 43% and 34% of injuries, respectively. Other significant causes of moderate brain injury include firearm-related injuries and assault.

Moderate brain injuries can be contained to one specific area of the brain, but often are more widespread. As different areas of the brain control different functions, the secondary effects experienced due to moderate brain injury vary significantly based on the location of damage.

Secondary Effects of Moderate TBI

Secondary effects of moderate brain injury can be categorized as:

  • Cognitive changes: confusion, loss of memory, problems with concentration and learning
  • Physical effects: weakness, balance difficulties, decreased coordination
  • Language difficulties: trouble with comprehension and clear communication
  • Sensory changes: altered perception of sensory input, problems with hearing and vision
  • Emotional effects: anxiety, depression, anger, experiencing intense emotions
  • Behavioral problems: impulsivity, lack of inhibition, personality changes

Individuals with moderate brain injury often do not experience all of these secondary effects, but may experience different combinations of these effects depending on the location of their brain damage. Each brain injury is unique, resulting in secondary effects of various types and intensities.

How to Optimize Recovery After Moderate TBI

The recovery journey is different for everyone. One of the best ways to optimize recovery is to activate neuroplasticity. This is a process through which the brain can rewire itself, moving the regulation of affected functions to healthy areas of the brain. Repetition promotes neuroplasticity, which is why many rehabilitative techniques involve repetitive exercises and activities.

Individuals with moderate brain injury may benefit from the following treatments:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy works on improving movements through exercises and hands-on techniques. They may address weakness, balance challenges, and altered gait (walking) patterns, among other motor-related issues.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists focus on increasing participation and independence in daily activities. They may use activities to improve skills needed for getting dressed, making a meal, managing money, working, or other functional tasks. Sensory changes can also be addressed during occupational therapy. Compensatory techniques, such as the use of adaptive equipment, may be introduced though occupational therapy as well.

Speech Therapy

Communication, cognition, and eating/swallowing challenges can all be addressed during speech therapy. Speech therapists can utilize oral-motor exercises to improve strength and coordination of the muscles of the mouth to improve speaking and eating abilities. They may also address cognitive changes, such as limited memory and concentration, through exercises and activities involving these skills.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Since cognition is often impacted during moderate brain injury, cognitive rehabilitation is an excellent treatment option. Cognitive rehabilitation may consist of restorative and compensatory methods to improve cognitive functioning.

Restorative techniques focus on improving specific skills, often through repetitive exercises. For example, if someone struggles with their working memory skills, a cognitive rehabilitation session may focus on improving these skills through a memory game, such as concentration.

Conversely, compensatory techniques refer to options used to make up for cognitive deficits, such as using notes and alarms as reminders. Cognitive rehabilitation is often most effective when used in conjunction with other therapies.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Although still considered experimental, transcranial direct current stimulation is a promising option for boosting recovery after moderate brain injury. It is a non-invasive, pain-free intervention involving two electrodes placed on the head to stimulate specific areas of the brain.

Transcranial direct current stimulation has been demonstrated to improve recovery outcomes following traumatic brain injury in various studies, although it is most beneficial when used in addition to more traditional rehabilitative strategies.

Support Groups

Support groups are helpful not only for individuals who have sustained a moderate brain injury, but also for their loved ones. A support group emphasizes the value of shared experiences, allowing survivors and their families to celebrate victories, discuss challenges, and learn from others in similar situations.

Recovery Outlook for Moderate Brain Injury Survivors

Moderate brain injury survivors may experience some challenges on their road to recovery.

One study followed 395 individuals who had sustained a moderate brain injury. At one year after injury, it was found that while very few individuals died (6%) or had severe disabilities (8%), 44% of individuals were considered moderately disabled.

However, a different study of over 70 individuals with moderate brain injury found that 75% of individuals experienced favorable outcomes one year after injury. Furthermore, in this same study, one in three individuals reported no disability one year post-injury.

Factors that have been associated with poorer recovery outcomes include old age, hypotension (low blood pressure) upon hospital admission, and polytrauma.

Although there are mixed recovery outcomes based on the research, new treatments are consistently being studied to promote better recoveries.

Understanding Moderate TBI

While there is limited research focused specifically on moderate brain injury, there are many cases diagnosed as moderate brain injury each year. A moderate brain injury can result in various cognitive, physical, and psychological secondary effects. Pursuing treatment focused on optimizing neuroplasticity is an excellent way to improve your recovery outlook and experience a positive recovery.

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 a team of neuroscientists and clinicians from Boston University created the CT Speech & Cognitive Therapy app. Designed for those recovering from stroke, TBI, or living with neurological conditions, the app contains over 100,000 cognitive exercises that are all available right from your phone or tablet. That’s like having a speech therapist by your side whenever you want!

This app is the perfect fit if you want to improve your speaking, memory, or general mental sharpness. And, 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.