Brain Injury and Concussion Rehabilitation
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Brain Injury and Concussion Rehabilitation

What is a Brain Injury?

A brain injury occurs when the brain has been damaged.  From a neurological perspective, damage may be comparatively minimal (concussion), or extensive (moderate to severe brain injury).  It is important to remember, however, that the true impact of the brain injury is realized when we measure the impact of the symptoms on your life.

It is very difficult to predict brain injury recovery and the exact symptoms you will experience, because symptoms vary depending, not only on the part of the brain that was injured, but the parts of the brain that the injured area works with. 

Even a mild concussion may have far-reaching effects depending on several factors; including the health of the brain at the time of injury, past injuries, the part of the brain that has been injured, and the impact of your specific symptoms on your life.

A brain injury can be sustained in many different ways.  These include sport concussion, blast injury (military), lack of oxygen to the brain (anoxic brain injury), stroke, traumatic brain injury due to a car accident, fall, or being struck with an object.

What are the symptoms of Brain Injury?

The range of possible symptoms following brain injury is broad.  Although brain injury classification ranges from mild traumatic brain injury/post concussive syndrome, to moderate and severe brain injury, it is important to note the symptoms that may be experienced at any point along the spectrum.  For example, an individual with post concussive syndrome may experience significant attention issues, and an individual with severe traumatic brain injury may experience severe sound sensitivity.   

Some of the impact of symptoms must be measured against life demand.  For example, someone who works at a fast food restaurant will struggle if they experience visual and sound sensitivity; and may not be able to return to their pre-injury job.  On the other hand, someone who works alone in a quiet office may be able to manage their environment enough that they are able to return to what they were doing before the injury. 

Severe TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Symptoms:

  • Cognitive: impaired attention, concentration, distractibility, memory, processing speed, confusion, perseveration (stuck points), impulsiveness, language processing, executive function (organization, emotion regulation, planning, decision making)
  • Speech and Language: Slurred speech, problems reading or writing, receptive aphasia (difficulty understanding language), expressive aphasia (difficulty speaking language)
  • Sensory:  Difficulty interpreting sensory information (smell, vision, touch, temperature, etc.)
  • Perception:  The brain’s interpretation of sensory information.
  • Vision: partial or total loss of vision, decreased colour vision, weakness of eye muscles, double vision, blurred vision, difficulty judging distance and contrast, involuntary eyes movements, light sensitivity
  • Hearing:  Change in hearing, tinnitus, sound sensitivity
  • Physical Changes:  Paralysis or spasticity, chronic pain, bowel and bladder control, body temperature regulation
  • Sleep disorders:  Excessive sleepiness, insomnia, disrupted circadian clock
  • Social-emotional: Impaired motivation, emotion regulation, irritability, anxiety, depression, aggression, lack of awareness or understanding of the impact of injury

Mild TBI Symptoms:

  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Tinnitus
  • Behavioral or emotional dysregulation
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Seeing stars or lights
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Feeling “slowed down”
  • Feeling “in a fog” or “dazed”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering