What exactly is brain injury rehabilitation?
A brain injury can affect just about everything — including the way you walk, talk, and think. That's why there are a number of treatments available that attempt to restore the parts of life that have been affected by a brain injury. The term “brain injury rehabilitation” refers to the many different kinds of specialized supports and services that are offered following the emergency and early phases of brain injury treatment.
Some brain injury rehabilitation is offered as a program within a hospital or other clinical setting; other types of brain injury rehabilitation might occur on an outpatient basis. While most everyone benefits from rehabilitation following a brain injury, the specific type of rehabilitation depends on the unique needs of the person and the challenges they face.
Different types of services specific to brain injury rehabilitation
- Cognitive therapy
- Speech/language therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Neurobehavioral therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Neuropsychological testing
Medical professionals typically involved in brain injury rehabilitation
- Behavioral analysts
- Speech/language pathologists
- Cognitive therapists
- Physical therapists
- Recreational therapists
- Occupational therapists
The Rehabilitation Process
During and after the physical recovery from a brain injury, a person may receive various tests that help determine what parts of the brain have been affected. Sometimes this testing is conducted by a neuropsychologist or a clinical evaluator who is experienced in brain injury screening. If the need for rehabilitation is evident, then specific rehabilitation services will be recommended. In most cases, a hospital social worker or case manager will help direct a person to programs that offer the type of treatment the person needs.
The actual length of the rehabilitation process varies according to the person and to the severity of their injury. Some people may only require a few weeks or months of rehabilitation, and others may require years or even lifelong rehabilitation.
While most people agree that rehabilitation should begin as early as possible following a brain injury, it is not uncommon to begin rehabilitation months or years following the injury event. With the help of specialized rehabilitation, anyone with a brain injury can continue to make improvements in his or her life, no matter how many years have transpired since the injury.
“Brain injury doesn’t mean never,” says Peggi. “It means just not now, maybe. And maybe not ever, but at least I can get a rung on the ladder, I can hold on to something and try to get better.”