What are the Potential Complications of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Many complications can occur due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some of these are noticed immediately after injury, while others may occur later in recovery. Usually, the complications depend upon the injury's location and severity. TBI rehab centers are vital as they can reduce the risk of complications resulting from a TBI

Complications can be physical or neurological and may be progressive. Understanding complications can help you to identify the best ways to support and care for your loved one. 


What are Brain Injury Complications?

Because every brain injury is different, patients may have unique secondary effects. These depend upon the area of the brain impacted and whether the injury is mild, moderate, or severe. 


Bed Sores (Pressure Ulcers)

Pressure ulcers develop from injury to the skin or underlying tissue. They often occur over bony areas such as the hips or heels. Often they develop due to friction, immobility, pressure, an infection, or sepsis. Pressure ulcers can develop quickly, even within a few hours of pressure.

If not treated, they can result in tissue death and life-threatening infections. Caregivers must adjust the patient frequently (at least every 2 hours) to help avoid pressure ulcers. 


Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism 

TBI patients who are immobile and susceptible to developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is a formation of blood clots in the large veins, usually in the legs. Part of the clot can break off, travel through the body and lead to complications such as a pulmonary embolism. 

The cause of a pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the artery of the lungs. Both DVTs and Pulmonary embolisms can be life-threatening or lead to additional complications such as a stroke.



Pneumonia is an infection that affects the air sacs in one or both lungs. They can fill up with fluid or pus, which can be life-threatening. TBI patients are prone to developing pneumonia and may require a ventilator in severe cases. 

It is also important to note that aspiration pneumonia is frequent among TBI patients who have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Cough with phlegm
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Difficulty Breathing



Tension and migraine headaches are common after TBIs. Headaches may be frequent for many weeks or months after the injury. 


Vertigo (dizziness)

TBI, patients can experience vertigo due to inner ear problems, damage to the cerebellum or occipital lobe of the brain, medication, migraines, or due to dehydration. Vertigo or dizziness is common after a TBI. Some patients may express that it seems as if the room is spinning. 



Many TBI patients experience some level of fatigue after a brain injury. Fatigue is due to the brain's recovery from the injury's secondary effects. The brain uses energy for healing, leaving less energy to engage in other tasks. Patients may also experience physical or psychological fatigue as they participate in neurological rehabilitation. 

Post-Acute Rehabilitation

Where Can I Find Out More Information About Post-Acute Rehabilitation?

NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest neuro rehabilitation centers in Florida and the southeast United States. We specialize in patients who have experienced a TBI and have a wide range of rehabilitation programs available at our facility. 

We customize our programs for each patient, as each injury is unique. Our care plans are structured so that our patients can reach their highest potential for individual functioning and integrate into the community. We can only accomplish this through our clinical experts' work and experience in treating TBI patients. 


Contact us to schedule a tour today! 


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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