A traumatic brain injury (also known as TBI) occurs as a result of trauma to the head, leading to damage to the brain itself. Traumatic brain injuries can result from numerous types of injuries including automobile accidents, contact sports, or falls. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe; ranging from headaches and general confusion to partial paralysis and loss of sensation. In fact, any injury to the brain is a serious condition that requires hospitalization and immediate medical attention.
A mild TBI may be associated with a change in the mental state of the individual or a short-term loss of consciousness. A severe TBI may result in a coma, memory loss and loss of muscle control. Over a period of time, this can cause loss of muscle strength and a deterioration of balance, which can lead to falls.
Although the severity of a brain injury can vary immensely, the importance of physical therapy cannot be overstated. Some brain injuries may require a few weeks of rehabilitation; while severe injuries can require several months of neurological re-education under the supervision of an experienced physical therapist.
Every instance of TBI is unique and different and a physical therapist can conduct a detailed evaluation to determine the extent of impairment. This initial evaluation will help determine extent of sensation, consciousness, body awareness, memory, muscle tone, movement, balance and gait.
Based on the evaluation, the physical therapist may design a program consisting of neuro-developmental training, joint mobilization, functional training and self-stretching exercises. The four most common benefits of physical therapy include:
1. Improving motor function and muscle strength.
2. Improved responsiveness to sensation and awareness of your surrounding.
3. Lifestyle counseling to enhance independence with daily activities.
4. Improved balance to facilitate standing and walking.
With brain injury, time is of the essence. Don’t delay – seek medical attention and start working with a physical therapist as soon as possible.
A brain injury has the potential to affect the quality of life and limit the individual’s ability to do simple things. Expect your physical therapist to work closely with other members of the healthcare team to improve your ‘brain health’ and speed up the recovery process.
The goal is to help the individual resume full function in a gradual, controlled manner under the supervision of the physical therapist. Your therapist can recondition your brain and nervous system, bridging the gap between medical intervention and full recovery.
The bottom line – physical therapy treatment will help regain function and improve quality of life. As your physical therapists, there is a lot that we can do a lot for you; including boosting your ‘brain health’. Call us today and we’ll show you what we can do for you and your brain.
Dr. Daniel Skulavik, PT, DPT, OCS, is with Advanced Physical Therapy located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, Clinton.