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Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) can be devastating for both the individual and their family, and can be a life changing event. TBI may be the result of sustaining a blow or insult to the head, for example during a car accident, a bullet or other foreign object penetrating the skull and lodging in the brain matter or, from a simple fall where the individual bangs their head on the ground.

The consequences can be immediate, with symptoms occurring within seconds of the injury, or they may slowly develop over a period of days or weeks as blood leaks from the damaged brain area causing the brain to swell slowly against the skull. The effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury can vary hugely, depending upon the type of the injury sustained and the medical attention received immediately after the injury.

various problems may be affected following traumatic brain injury depending upon the location and severity of injury such as hearing, tinnitus, eeizures, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, decreased smell or taste, speech and language problems, changes in normal bodily functions, reduced strength, altered balance and coordination in the body, sensory loss, chronic pain, altered muscle tone, cognitive functions etc.

Physiotherapy rehabilitation is vital following a Traumatic Brain Injury in order to achieve the maximum potential recovery. The plastic ability of the brain and nervous system (in other words its ‘neuroplasticity’), enables modifications to take place within the injured brain cells, in response to stimuli and therapeutic information from the outside

‘re-programming’ of nerve pathways and brain activity, through the correct therapy input can help an individual to re-learn skills, movements and functions by opening and optimising new pathways within the nervous system. Neuro-physiotherapy is therefore directed at providing the most appropriate stimuli at the most appropriate time, in order to harness the neuroplastic ability of the brain. Ideally this occurs at the earliest stage following an injury.

Rehabilitation following TBI is unlike any other type of rehabilitation. The injuries sustained can often be severe and may take longer to recover from than other types of neurological conditions. In addition, the nature of the injury may have caused other physical problems such as fractures and soft tissue damage, to occur alongside the brain injury. Improvements are often rapid during the immediate few weeks post-injury, followed by a slower period of recovery over the coming months into years.

Although the majority of a person’s recovery is achieved within the first 12 months post-injury, there is evidence to show that improvements can continue, given the appropriate therapy and rehabilitation, for up to 10 years.

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