Immediately after injury TBI patients will receive acute treatment. However, once the patient has been stabilized, he or she will start receiving subacute treatment. The fundamental goal of subacute treatment is to rehabilitate the traumatic brain injury patient so that he or she can live as independently as possible.
To do this, doctors work closely with patients, families, therapists and other specialists to ensure that patients receive comprehensive treatment. In addition to re-training damaged parts of the body how to function properly, subacute treatment for TBI also:
- Addresses and treats emotional issues, such as depression
- Prepares severe TBI patients for long-term care facilities
- Prevents further damage or complications from arising (This includes thoroughly examining the patient to identify complications that will develop in the coming weeks.)
- Teaches TBI patients how to cope with their impairments and limitations.
Subacute Treatment: Physical Care
Physical care during subacute treatment for TBI includes rehabilitating any physical disabilities sustained as a result of the brain injury. While patients can suffer from any number of different types of physical complications, some of the most common may include:
- Inability to talk
- Inability to walk
- Loss of hand-eye coordination
- Loss of motor functioning
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Loss of vision
Keep in mind that traumatic brain injury patients may experience any combination of the above physical complications to any degree, ranging from mild and treatable to severe and permanent.
In most cases, physical rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury will require the help of:
- Physical therapists
- Speech therapists.
Post-Traumatic Amnesia from Traumatic Brain Injury
Most patients admitted to medical facilities for subacute treatment of TBI will also be experiencing post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). With PTA, patients suffer from weakness, a loss of coordination and balance and, in most cases, confusion and lack of logical thought.
Agitated and unaware of the extent of their impairments, many TBI patients with PTA will try to move around more than they should. To compensate, most subacute care facilities have trained staff that can anticipate and prevent further injury from these occurrences.
Subacute Treatment: Neurological and Emotional Care
Because traumatic brain injury can damage emotional and cognitive health, along with physical health, subacute treatment also includes rehabilitation for mental complications. Neurologists and therapists can help patients:
- Overcome depression due to their impairment
- Overcome low self-esteem
- Re-learn how to focus and concentrate
- Re-learn how to interact in social settings
- Re-learn to speak.
Depending on the severity of a patient's condition, outpatient care may be available, allowing some TBI patients to return home.
Subacute care ends when TBI patients are ready to function in the community on their own (or with the proper aide) or move to a long-term care center for the last stage of TBI treatment, chronic treatment.