Brain Injury Treatments
For the common cold, a treatment can be a quick over the counter fix getting you back up and running in the matter of days. The course of treatment for a minor fracture can involve setting the limb in a cast with full recovery in roughly six weeks. However, for the survivor of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the term “treatment” takes on an entirely different meaning. For those suffering a mild brain injury such as a concussion or a slight bump on the head, treatment can involve some pain medications and close observation to make sure persistent, worsening or new symptoms don’t arise. For those suffering from a moderate to severe brain injury, treatment is much more comprehensive.
What are the stages of treatment after a traumatic brain injury? There are several. The first stage, sometimes called the acute stage, involves immediate emergency medical care. This stage is often referred to as the “golden hour” because the type and timing of treatment in this stage is often critical to survival and prevention of further brain damage. Since the brain is one of the body’s main life-sustaining organs, it is critical at this point to make sure the brain is receiving enough oxygen and blood supply. Not all emergency medical facilities are equipped to handle severe brain injuries so it is important for on-scene medical personnel to make sure the patient is transported to a facility capable of delivering the acute care needed during this initial phase.
After the patient receives initial treatment and is stabilized and properly diagnosed, depending on the type of injury, additional surgical procedures may be necessary to remove damage to the brain such as contusions or hematomas, remove foreign objects or to relieve pressure and prevent swelling. Once stable enough, a patient can then be moved to a sub-acute rehabilitation area of the hospital or to an independent rehab facility to assess and deliver long term, therapy. It is not uncommon during this stage for a brain injury survivor to remain in the rehab facility for weeks or even months.
The real work for the patient and family members begins after discharge. Since prognosis can worsen with the severity of the injury, the level of severity will determine the likelihood of long-lasting disability. Some of the questions that arise during this phase are questions like:
- How long will brain injury rehabilitation last?
- Can a disability from a brain injury become permanent?
- Are there any new or emerging treatments for brain injury victims?
The recovery process is full of questions like these and aside from the types of treatment available, the outcome can depend on the patient and their personal will to recover. For every sad story that ends with grief, there are several stories of success. The mind is a powerful thing often only out-shined by personal will power.