How to Manage Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms Years Later

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) have severe short-term effects on daily life and can affect a person long-term, even years after the injury. Physical and emotional symptoms can be long-lasting, causing stress and frustration not just for the patient but also for family members. 

Some patients even report symptoms over 20 years after the injury. The leading cause of traumatic brain injuries are accidents (often car accidents) and falls by senior citizens, which pose unique challenges for rehabilitation. 

This article will focus on long-term brain injury symptoms and options for managing their symptoms with post-acute rehab

Why do Some Patients Experience Long-Term Symptoms?

After a TBI, the brain works to repair the damage. Sometimes the process happens relatively quickly, especially with rehabilitation. About a third of patients recover within the first six months of the injury, and the patient often returns to their pre-injury condition.

But, in other patients, parts of the brain cannot be repaired or may even decline. In these cases, it may result in long-term or even lifetime damage. These symptoms can also have a delay in onset. Often accompanying these symptoms are social and emotional symptoms that add to difficulties in recovery. 

What are the Long-Term Symptoms After a Brain Injury?

Some patients face chronic complications. Symptoms vary depending on the individual's injury. Some symptoms include: 

  • Headaches and Migraines

Some patients find headaches and migraines worsen over time.

  • Sensitivity to Light and Noise

About a quarter of patients still experience sensitivity to light and noise (photophobia) one year after their injury.

  • Dizziness

Dizziness is one of the most common long-term symptoms after injury. At least one-fifth of patients experience the symptom five years after the injury. 

  • Visual Difficulties

Many patients with a TBI experience visual difficulties and still experience the symptom three years or more after their injury.

Other cognitive difficulties can include: 

  • Sleep
  • Time management
  • Attention and Concentration
  • Aggression
  • Personality changes
  • Depression and anxiety

Though more research needs to be completed, there seems to be a connection between severe TBIs, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Most researchers agree there is an increased risk of TBIs developing into these diseases. 

How to Treat Long-Term Symptoms of a TBI

The patient may require long-term rehabilitation at a neuro rehabilitation center. Rehabilitation therapists can continue to work with the patient to manage their symptoms. Sometimes the patient requires months at a neuro rehab center before transitioning home with ongoing outpatient services. 

Rehabilitation centers will continue to work with patients on basic skills such as walking or talking, getting dressed, and other activities of daily life. A team approach is often used to help the patient recover and get as close to everyday living as possible. The team includes:

  • Physiatrist- a doctor that specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Occupational therapist- helps the patient learn skills of daily living.
  • Physical therapist- helps the patient with mobility and learning skills such as balance and walking.
  • Speech and language therapist- helps the patient improve communication skills and use an assistive device if necessary.
  • Neuropsychologist- assesses cognitive impairment, helps the patient manage behaviors, and helps them learn coping skills.
  • Case managers help facilitate access to outpatient service agencies, assist in care decisions and planning, and facilitate communication with the family.
  • Nursing staff- Assist with ongoing care and help with implementing the treatment plan.
  • Recreational therapist- Assist with time management, movement, and leisure activities.
  • Vocational counselor- Helps to learn vocational skills and assists in returning to work. They help address common challenges TBI patients face once they return to a working environment.

Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation can not guarantee curing all long-term TBI symptoms, but they help reduce symptoms experienced.

Why You Should Choose Neulife for Neuro Rehabilitation

Neulife Rehab is one of Florida's most extensive brain injury facilities and the southwest United States. Through rehabilitation, medical management, psychiatric, neurophysical services, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapies, and much more, we provide the best in care, so your loved one has the BEST POSSIBLE recovery. 

Schedule a tour to see our facility to decide if it may be appropriate for your loved one. Please reach out to us at 1-888-626-3876. We are always here to answer questions.

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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