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Back to Normal: Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Takes Time


A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any injury to the brain which disrupts how the brain functions, usually caused by some outside force, such as a violent blow to the head, says Lee Ann Bryant, inpatient occupational therapist at Covenant Medical Center. September is TBI Awareness Month

“Symptoms can range anywhere from mild to severe, with mild symptoms being headaches, difficulty thinking, difficulty concentrating; all the way to complete unconsciousness and inability to perform functional tasks,” she said.

Lee Ann works with patients during therapy. The ultimate goal is to maximize quality of life for the individual. She says that’s about helping them get back to where they were before their injury, and that therapy helps patients during the whole spectrum of care, from acute care to inpatient, to outpatient rehabilitation.

“In acute care, which is in the hospital right after the injury occurs, we’re going to do the lower-level things, just getting up on the edge of the bed, getting out of the bed, getting to a commode or a sink, putting your clothes on, doing your basic grooming,” she said.

“Moving on to rehab, it just gets harder and more high-level, then on to out-patient, which just progresses each level, to where you’re in the outpatient or community re-entry program. You’re trying to get home, or get back to a job, so you can function independently and safely on your own,” Lee Ann said.

The effects from a TBI can be devastating, because they can cause a change in function.

“They can affect your family, your job, social interactions. The cause is the same, but the symptoms can range from being mild, like from bumping your head on a cabinet, to concussions that are caused by sports injuries, all the way to devastating car wrecks, firearm injuries, things like that.”

Lee Ann says prevention is important, especially in the areas of sports– having educated parents, coaches, schools; and people who fall, the elderly – having therapy to help keep them from falling. Even wearing your seatbelt, anything that can help prevent TBI is good practice.

Awareness is important as well, to get information out there that there are things that can be done in these situations.

“Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, art, music, pets. There is an array of therapies that can help people heal from these injuries, from the mild to the severe, to get patients back to where they were before,” Lee Ann said.

She recommends that if you think you or a loved one might have a brain injury, have it checked.

“You may hit your head and think, ‘it’s no big deal,’ but when you keep having the symptoms, like a headache or difficulty concentrating, you need to be seen by a physician,” she said.

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please seek medical advice from your physician for any related medical condition. If you are in need of a primary care doctor, click here to find one in the Covenant Health network.

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