Chronic Treatment for TBI

The final stage of care and rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury comes with the chronic treatment phase. During chronic treatment for TBI, patients with mild to moderate cases will regularly visit doctors to receive necessary long-term care.

For those with severe TBI, chronic treatment typically involves staying at a chronic care facility where they will receive constant care for their complications.

Types of Chronic Care

Clearly, as with many injuries, the severity of the brain injury will dictate the type and level of chronic care that a patient needs. About 1 million people suffer head injuries each year, and levels of chronic care vary among the following types:

  • home care: For those with more serious complications due to TBI, home care is available. Home care for traumatic brain injury involves round-the-clock nursing from a registered nurse or equivalent medical professional.
  • outpatient care: Those with mild to moderate traumatic brain injury will only need minimal treatment for a few recurring issues. Consequently, this type of chronic care revolves around regular doctor's appointments while patients resume their daily lives.
  • neurobehavioral centers: Through therapy rather than medication, these programs work with TBI patients suffering from cognitive, emotional and social disorders as a result of their impairment.
  • transition rehabilitation programs: Patients live in the facility where they receive physical therapy, neurological treatment and psychotherapy until they are ready to live on their own. Transition rehabilitation programs are intended for TBI patients who are likely to recover most functioning.

Chronic Care Statistics

Below are some interesting statistics about rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury:

  • Less than 5 percent of traumatic brain injury patients get the proper type and amount of rehabilitation they need.
  • On average, patients suffering from severe TBI will need to undergo intense subacute treatment for 5 to 10 years before moving on to chronic treatment.
  • Those suffering from severe TBI will spend between 4 and 9 million dollars for treatment over their lifetimes.

What Chronic Care for TBI Treats

Once a patient moves from subacute to chronic care, treatment will focus on curing or minimizing:

  • chronic pain
  • emotional issues, including anxiety and depression
  • headaches and migraines
  • mental disabilities, including ADHD and memory problems
  • mobility problems, including lack of coordination or the inability to walk
  • problems socializing or otherwise interacting with others
  • speech problems

Treatment will occur through a combination of:

  • assistive technologies, including wheelchairs and hearing aides
  • behavioral therapy
  • group therapy (in which TBI patients get together to share experiences and learn from each other)
  • neurological care
  • prescription medications
  • physical therapy
  • psychotherapy
  • speech therapy

While patients with mild traumatic brain injury may fully recover from their impairments, for others, chronic treatment for TBI will be lifelong. In many cases, the type and intensity of treatment will decrease overtime, as the TBI patient and his or her family learn more about how to care for and cope with traumatic brain injury.