Brain injury is the leading cause of injury death and disability in young adults following an accident. TBI or traumatic brain injury can manifest in a variety of clinical symptoms, which makes treating such patients extremely challenging. Physiotherapists play an important role in providing care services to such patients and the different methods of treatment help improve the patient’s functional status. They work with patients with traumatic brain injury in acute inpatient, followed by home-based phases of rehabilitation.
The Consequences of TBI
TBI can have numerous and complex neurological consequences which require extensive and specific rehabilitation of the affected person. Studies suggest that early and intensive rehabilitation has a number of positive effects on patients with TBI. In the initial and more acute phase, physiotherapists focus on respiratory care, passive range of motion treatment as well as helping patients reduce spasticity. In the later phases, the treatment mostly consists of the use of different approaches, such as functional training and training of compensator strategies.
Rehabilitation Phases for TBI
The first step of the rehabilitation process requires physiotherapists to identify any physical impairments which are directly related to the brain injury. They also have to identify impairments that are secondary to concomitant orthopedic or spinal cord injury. Identifying the physical impairments helps give them an idea about the patient’s needs and capacity for progress in the rehabilitation phase. The professional will then coordinate the rehabilitation therapy and will observe the outcome.
Several specific physiotherapeutic methods are known to show positive effects in patients with TBI.
These methods include:
- Sensory stimulation
- Fitness or aerobic training
- Respiratory therapy
- Functional training
- Contracture prophylaxis
Patients are made to go through arm and gait ability training as well as sit-to-stand training. Different treatment methods are used by physiotherapists based on the patient’s problems. Patients are regularly assessed during rehabilitation to determine whether the goals set at the beginning of treatment were achieved.
Goals for TBI Therapy Treatment
Throughout the rehabilitation phase, the goal of the physiotherapist is to stabilize the medical and rehabilitation issues related to brain injury as well as other injuries. The physiotherapist also has to prevent secondary complications from developing such as pressure sores, contractures, and pneumonia. Physiotherapists also work with the patient to restore functional abilities which may be limited as a result of their injuries. These abilities include simple day-to-day tasks such as eating, drinking, talking, moving around, using the bathroom, and even thinking. Certain adaptive devices of strategies are used by the staff in order to enhance functional independence in TBI patients. The patient is analyzed to determine if any special requirements need to be met once the person goes home. The family of the patient is also involved at all times so they understand the needs of the patient.
Patients participating in therapy need assistance all the time even with the most simple activities such as getting out of bed, brushing teeth, eating and drinking. Staff also ensures the safety of the patient as they have a risk of falling and getting hurt. Oftentimes, patients may be confused and forgetful. Physiotherapist and Rehabilitation nurses assist patients with brain injury and chronic illness to attain maximum optimal health by adapting to an altered lifestyle.