It’s typically only when changes in behavior or physical function appear that a traumatic brain injury is recognized. It’s not just football players and military personnel that can sustain a TBI. Children under age four are prone to falls and head injuries during play or as the result of some type of abuse. Even a “mild” concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury.
Vehicle accidents and sports injuries are the primary cause of TBI in 15-19 year olds, while falls are the most common cause of TBIs in older people. Symptoms vary widely depending upon the location of the injury and the part of the brain that’s affected. Patients may need to relearn how to perform tasks others take for granted.
Mental, physical, emotional and behavioral changes occur, but there’s no way to predict what those alterations will be or the severity. People may have problems with memory, vision, hearing and balance. Problem solving abilities may be impaired, along with the ability to pay attention. The person with the TBI often doesn’t know the changes have taken place or that they’re acting any different than usual.
Physical Therapy Benefits for TBI
A traumatic brain injury can result in a coma from the moment of impact. Depending upon the severity of the damage to the brain, patients can require significant rehabilitation but still be unable to return to their normal work or full functionality. Traumatic brain injury is more widespread than many people think and is classified as a serious public health problem.
Prevention and Treatment of TBI
Manual manipulation is beneficial for those who are unable to participate in an exercise program. The therapy is advantageous even for patients who are in a coma. If assistive aids are required for mobility, such as a cane or wheelchair, your physical therapist will help you learn how to use them effectively.
A variety of complementary treatments may be used in combination for the best outcome, depending upon your specific needs. Hydrotherapy, acupuncture, dry needling and therapeutic massage may be employed for overall fitness, to manage weight, and stimulate muscles. Aligning the neck and spine relieves pressure on the neurological system for better transmission of impulses between the brain and the body.
The range of symptoms and level of disability can vary widely with a traumatic brain injury and your physical therapist has preventative and restorative measures that can help you stabilize and restore your level of physical function. Your therapist will also work with your family and loved ones to help them understand what you’re going through and provide the support you need at every stage of treatment.
Dr. A Mathew MPT, DPT
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