Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery: From Moderate to Severe

By | October 28, 2020

Severe traumatic injuries and accidents are part of life; however, a serious injury to vital organs can interfere with the quality of life. It may involve tear in the brain that may cause unavoidable damage to vital functions and interfere with your normal daily activities. The brain damage result can be terrible. There may be paralysis, moderate or severe, and the worst-case scenario head trauma that can lead to death.

TBI[1]is a serious medical emergency that is considered a complex condition. Recovery process of damaging brain injury (TBI) varies depending on the individual and brain injury. The consequences of traumatic brain injury can be broad, and depend on many factors, including the type, location and severity of the injury. Recovery may be months or years after the initial injury. Devastating and fatal injuries may be easier to determine than other injuries.

Traumatic Brain Injury Stages 

There are no clear and definite stages of recovery from traumatic brain injury. However, immediately after the trauma, symptoms like bleeding, swelling, changes in chemicals  of the brain affect the function of healthy brain tissue. Some patients may experience dramatic  recoveries for months or years after when the injury occurs. Some definitions are terms for the recovery stages, which are:


The injured person completely blacked out, did not respond to visual stimulation or sounds,  unable to communicate, and cannot be awakened or unresponsive even with painful stimuli.

Vegetative State

Generally, the person can breathe by themselves and have a sleep-wake cycle, but patients remain unconscious.

Minimally Conscious State

The patient is in half-conscious condition. Begin regain perception and may recognize objects, sounds, and visualization. Others can already follow instructions.

Full consciousness

100% coming out from the unconsciousness. Patients now started to show signs of fast improvement daily. However, some patients suffering from memory difficulty sometimes are unable to recognize family members.

Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis

People who suffer from TBI can be moderate or severe. The diagnosis is commonly unclear to its information. In the presence of other fatal injuries, which is often the case with motor vehicular accidents, traffic accidents, and closed head injury can be missed. Diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent life-threatening complications.

traumatic brain injury recovery

For the diagnosis of damaging brain injury, health care providers can use several tests to evaluate trauma, brain injury, nerve and brain function, and level of consciousness. Here are the crucial steps of the test:

  • The Health care provider may ask about details of your brain injury trauma and symptoms
  • The Health care provider may conduct a neurological examination[2]
  • Imaging tests like  CT scan or MRI to evaluate tears in the brain and how severe TBI is.
  • Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)[3] is a 15 point test of health care providers to assess the extent and degree of brain damage after a head injury. . This measures your capability to speak, move, and opening of your eyes
  • Conduct neuropsychological evaluation[4] to check brain functioning and problems

Traumatic Brain Injury Surgery

Surgery[5] is usually used for injured people with TBI but not for all cases. In Closed head trauma. Surgery does not fix the problem. Conditions like this need a pin or monitoring device (intracranial pressure) placed in the skull to monitor the pressure in the brain cavity.

Surgical option is most likely if bleeding present in the skull cavity and needs to be removed or drained. Tissue and bleeding blood brain tissue vessels need to be repaired to prevent further complications.

In all, the objective of surgical treatment is to prevent secondary head injuries, helping to minimize swelling, pressure, maintain blood flow and oxygen to the brain tissue.

Traumatic Brain Injury Medications

Medications for people with brain injuries are carefully selected, based on the severity of the injury people who have suffered a TBI may be prescribed medications to treat the symptoms of TBI and to reduce some of the risks associated with problems. These drugs may include, but not limited to:

  • Anti-convulsant (seizures prevention)
  • Anti-depressant  (treat instability of mood and depression)
  • Anticoagulants (prevention blood clot)
  • Anti-anxiety medication (reduce fear and nervousness)
  • Muscle relaxants (lessen spasms)
  • Stimulants
traumatic brain injury recovery
Traumatic Brain Injury Medications

Traumatic Brain Injury Early Recovery

In a series of studies, Trandur Ulfarsson, doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, has explored the long-term effects of harmful brain injuries caused for example by accidents or violence.

The studies, where 280 Swedish and Icelandic participants were followed up 1-11 years after the injury, show a clear association between how quickly patients get access to rehabilitation and how well they recover.

Functional Activity Improved

‘We found that the functional activity – for example how independent the patients are in their daily activities and how fast they can return to work – is substantially improved among those who are admitted to inpatient rehabilitation care early,’ says Ulfarsson, who presents the results in his doctoral thesis.

The studies also show that severe brain injury often leads to an impaired pituitary function, most often lack of growth hormone, which in turn may cause obesity.

Being unemployed or on sick leave prior to the injury also seems to be associated with worse functional activities performance and quality of life several years after the injury.

Higher Risk Of Dying

Moreover, the Gothenburg studies show that men who suffer a severe injury in the brain have a five times higher risk of dying 10 years after the injury; for women, the risk is eight times higher. These results confirm a recent study from Karolinska Institutet.

The increased risk can be attributed to illnesses and disabilities lingering on for several years after the injury.

‘The participants reported lasting disability, and low quality of life, with a complex range of physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional disturbance’.

Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery

Most people with significant brain injury will require some sort of rehabilitation. There are several options of program rehabilitation supporting somebody’s ability to participate in rehabilitation.

In particular, we are going to see within the rehabilitation of hearing disorders, emotional, physical and cognitive difficulties like agitation effects and sleep disorders. Various specialists can work together to help relearn basic skills, like talking, walking and self-care.

  •  A Physiatrist is the one who manages all rehabilitation – from drug prescription to referrals to people further counseling and psychological support.
  • A Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) who helps patients regain balance and mobility
  •  Occupational therapist who helps patients improve and learn the way they carry out daily activities
  • Speech and language pathologist for communication skill rehabilitation
  • A Neuropsychologist assists people deal with cognitive impairment and provide psychological support.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of TBI injury?

There are several type of TBI can occur, like Hemorrhages, Intracranial Hematomas, Coup-Contrecoup brain Injury ,concussions, contusions and penetrating brain injury

Is there any full recovery from a brain injury?

Recovery from a brain injury is  difficult to predict. Recovery may affect certain factor like age, location of injury, and the availability of support systems

Is a stroke different from a TBI?

Yes, stoke is different from TBI. TBI is injury caused by external force. Common causes may include automobile accidents, assaults, or fall and strike to head. However, TBI can increase the chance of having a stroke[6]

What are common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury?

There are simple symptoms people might consider to see such as, migraines and frequent headaches, nause, fatigue, seizures, memory issues and depression. These symptoms can add up to weaken condition, which not only prevents you from working a living, but can seriously affect your quality of life

All traumatic brain injuries can cause long term effects?

No. However, many people recover significantly from injury and long-term effects. There are factors that influencing the potential and actual long effects of head injury such as, severity, location, cause and health of patient from the time of accident