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If you know someone who has recently experienced a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI), the months or years following the incident can be filled with unknowns. Various types of rehabilitation after the initial recovery are vital for improving any residual effects from a brain injury.
Neuropsychology is a specialty field designed to address psychological and behavioral issues that may occur from a brain injury. After a brain injury, a person may be rude or profane to strangers or their family, or they may experience inappropriate expressions of mood, such as laughing or crying at inappropriate times. These issues are related to specific areas of the brain that may have been damaged from the injury; for example, damage to the frontal lobe is associated with impulsiveness. In some cases, medications may be helpful to reduce crying or laughing spells, depression, or psychosis. If the problem is more behavioral, the person may need to work with a neuropsychologist to try and correct these behaviors.
Occupational therapy focuses on relearning or improving activities of daily living (ADL). Depending on the location of damage, ADL may be compromised, either because of physical complications from brain injury, such as paralysis or muscle atrophy, or because the person may need to relearn how to perform basic activities. People who face severe injuries may need therapy to help them learn to perform self-care tasks each day, such as bathing and brushing their teeth. As part of occupational therapy, they may also learn different ways of performing these tasks. For example, a manifestation of damage to the parietal lobe can be hemispatial neglect. This condition causes inattention to one side of the body and extrapersonal space. The result of this condition is the person may not apply makeup to one side of their face or one side of a room may go unnoticed. Part of occupational therapy might consist of tactics to reduce inattention so the person can perform ADL as normally as possible.
One of the most common rehabilitative concerns after a brain injury is overcoming paralysis. Most often, paralysis affects one side of the body. Although this presents unique challenges, paralysis on one side of the body allows the person to use assistive devices to aid in their mobility. Physical therapy can include passive exercises to help build or retain strength, even if the person is confined to their bed. This minimizes muscle atrophy, which further limits recovery. As the person grows stronger or is able to do more, their physical therapy may include more time standing, attempting to walk, or peddling a stationary bike. Frequent movement of the affected side, even if the movement is passive, may also encourage recovery of sensation and function in some people.
Brain injuries from stroke or TBI can cause an infinite number of long-term concerns. Once the any acute concerns from brain injury are over, the sooner the patient can begin traumatic brain injury therapy services, the better the outcome.