Traumatic Brain Injuries - Definition, Types, Rehabilitation Options

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain suffers a temporary or permanent neurological dysfunction due to an accident. A brain injury is up to 10 times more common than a spine injury, according to recent studies. 

The number of people suffering from traumatic brain injury is underestimated as they are often misdiagnosed or classified incorrectly. Add to that that some patients don't report mild injuries, and it becomes more evident that the number of patients with traumatic brain injuries can be high.

In 2010, the last year with reported data, approximately 2.5 million people sustained a traumatic brain injury. Moreover, it is estimated that TBI is the cause of 30% of injury-related deaths in the US. 

Most brain injuries follow motor-vehicle accidents, falls, or assaults and are more common among men than women, with the difference being associated with risk-taking behavior. In this article, we will take a look at the types of TBIs and some of the rehabilitation and treatment options available for patients at NeuLife Rehab.


Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

Focal Injury

This results from direct mechanical force (such as those when the head strikes the windshield in a motor vehicle accident) and is usually associated with brain tissue damage visible to the naked eye. 

A common cause of focal injury is a penetrating head injury, in which the skull is perforated, as frequently occurs in auto accidents, blows to the head, and gunshot wounds. Focal injuries typically have symptoms that are related to the damaged area of the brain. Some of the injuries classified as focal include but are not limited to:

  • Cerebral contusion (when the brain is bruised as a result of contact with the skull)
  • Epidural hemorrhage (bleeding resulting from skull fracture)
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain tissue)3


Diffuse injury 

The injury is caused by hypoxia, meningitis, and damage to blood vessels. Unlike focal injuries, which are usually easy to detect using imaging, diffuse injuries may be challenging to see and define; often, much of the damage is microscopic. 

Diffuse injuries can result from acceleration/deceleration injuries. Some of the injuries classified as diffuse include but are not limited to:

  • Ischemic brain injury (as a result of insufficient blood supply to the brain)
  • Diffuse axonal injury (widespread damage to the white matter of the brain that usually results from acceleration/deceleration types of injury)
  • Swelling (an after-effect of an injury, can lead to dangerous increases in intracranial pressure4)


Consequences of TBI

The range of severity of traumatic brain injuries is broad, from a mild concussion to persistent vegetative states. Depending on the severity of the injury, the consequences may vary. 

They include:

  1. cognitive impairment 

  • long- or short-term memory loss
  • difficulty learning and memorizing new things 
  • short attention span 
  • speech problems
  • lack of concentration
  • problems with reading and writing
  • neurological impairment 

  • difficulty with walking, coordination, or balance; 
  • loss of taste, hearing, vision or smell; 
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • behavioral changes 

  • anger, 
  • frustration 
  • impatience
  • reduced self-esteem 
  • impulsivity
  • anxiety 
  • PTSD 
  • apathy 
  • lifestyle consequences 

  • unemployment 
  • loss of independence 
  • financial problems caused by medical bills, etc.



How Long is Rehab for a TBI?

How long rehabilitation lasts at TBI rehabilitation centers is dependent upon the severity of the brain damage. The patient's response to therapy also plays a factor. Some patients can return to the same level of functioning as before the injury, while others require life-long assistance. 

Some standard instructions provided to families following neurorehabilitation include:

  • Reporting any unusual signs and symptoms that are new
  • What might be expected behaviors and symptoms specific for the patient
  • Safety and self-care education
  • Medication education 
  • Community support resources

Sometimes the effects of a TBI do not emerge until years after the injury. Patients who have had a TBI are at a higher risk of diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. This is why it is important to understand that, although progress may be made during the patient's stay at a post-acute rehabilitation center, the patient will need ongoing long-term monitoring. 


What to Expect From a Neuro Rehab Center Near Me

Brain injury rehabilitation can take place in a variety of settings. There are both inpatient and outpatient TBI rehabilitation centers. There are also home-based options. Some TBI patients participate in day programs so they can go home with family at night. 

Programs are individualized but typically include:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Medication
  • Psychiatric care
  • Speech and language therapy

The appropriate program for your loved one will vary based on the type of injury and ability to participate.

Brain Injury Rehabilitation ProgramNeuLife Rehab Programs

At NeuLife, we know that every injury is different, and each patient faces their own set of challenges. 

This knowledge is the driving force behind our individualized approach to care. 

The brain injury rehabilitation program at NeuLife offers a full continuum of services for patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), non-traumatic/mild brain injury (MBI), and acquired brain injury (ABI) including a stroke. 

Our comprehensive program addresses the specific needs of each patient and family. The team focuses on maximizing abilities, providing education, increasing mobility, and preventing complications. Our brain injury rehabilitation program includes clinical evaluations, medical care, and therapeutic activities customized to meet each patient's goals, needs, and abilities. 

By leveraging a variety of rehabilitation services, we can create an integrated approach focused on helping each patient recover skills associated with activities of daily living (ADLs) using compensatory strategies and mobility aids to achieve a seamless transition into the community. Every component of the treatment plan is customized to the individual patient for guaranteed results.

If you have any questions at all or would like to schedule a tour around our modern, patient-friendly facility, please do contact us – we are looking forward to seeing you!


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
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