Condition Blog Brain Injury Cropped

Recovering from a Brain Injury

While brain injuries have multiple causes and outcomes, health professionals treat two conditions that impact how the brain functions: traumatic brain injury (or TBI) and non-traumatic brain injury (or NTBI). TBIs result from an external blow to the head. NTBIs result from illness, aneurysms, oxygen deprivation, a metabolic disorder, or stroke.

Many patients with a brain injury have difficulty with muscle control, thinking, emotional management, and communication with others. For these patients, the journey toward recovery can feel overwhelming, but at Reunion, you’ll never have to make that journey alone. Our interdisciplinary team will work together to curate a treatment plan around your needs and goals, then walk alongside you on the path toward healing.

Why Inpatient Rehabilitation?

If you or a loved one need support during recovery from a brain injury, your doctor may recommend treatment in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital (IRH) or a skilled nursing facility (SNF). While both IRHs and SNFs provide patients with occupational, physical, and speech therapy, patients in skilled nursing facilities work with therapists for only three to five hours a week, and patients in IRHs (such as Reunion) work with therapists for fifteen intensive hours each week. Medical studies have also shown that brain injury patients who recover in an IRH live longer, return to the community 17 days sooner, and have fewer ER visits and hospitalizations than patients treated in an SNF.

What to Expect in Inpatient Rehabilitation

If you choose to recover at a Reunion Rehabilitation Hospital, our team will provide you with three types of therapy: physical, occupational, and speech therapy. During admission, they will conduct an evaluation of your current physical limitations and needs. The day after admission, you will begin 60-90 minutes therapy sessions completing evidence-based techniques designed to improve your muscle control, thinking, and communication.

Physical Therapy

During brain injury recovery, you will use physical therapy to improve your strength, muscle and joint flexibility, balance and coordination, and gait. You may use our partial-weight-bearing treadmill and therapeutic stairs to practice gait training. You may also use a stationary bike with motor-assist technology to strengthen your legs. In functional electrical stimulation therapy (or FES therapy), therapists will use pulses of electrical currents to stimulate your nerves and improve your muscle control.

Occupational Therapy

In occupational therapy, you will complete activities designed to improve your memory and thinking. You may, for example, play board games or card games that help you improve your fine motor skills as well as your ability to plan, make decisions, and problem solve. You may also use our Bioness Integrated Therapy system (BITS) to improve your coordination and executive functioning. BITS is a software-based platform that evaluates your cognitive abilities and coordination and creates customized digital programming to support your healing.

Many patients with brain injury will also learn to complete specific tasks in occupational therapy that increase their independence, such as sitting and standing, learning how to dress themselves, and learning how to cook.

Speech Therapy

Patients with a brain injury may struggle with memory loss, thinking, facial muscle coordination, listening and comprehension, and the processing of facial expressions and body language. If you find yourself struggling to listen or speak in conversations, you may play memory card games or use the BITS platform to improve your communication abilities. You may also use the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument (or the IOPI), technology that measures and records your lip and tongue strength, and the Synchrony, an electrical stimulation treatment that supports muscle function and tone in the tongue and lips, during recovery.

After Rehab

As you leave inpatient care for home or another treatment facility, it is important to build a social support system for your ongoing recovery. Many patients with brain injuries struggle with stress and emotional management, so you may benefit from working with a therapist. Meanwhile, it is important that you maintain physical activity and a healthy diet, and that you communicate your needs with loved ones to maintain your independence and self-confidence.

At Reunion, this is our ultimate treatment goal: we empower you to return to your community with as much independence as possible. After all, Reunion is both our namesake and our mission. We work side-by-side with you so you can return to the people and experiences that make your life meaningful.

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