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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Mar 12th, 2024 | by Cait Parr, PT, DPT

Cait Parr, PT, DPT

March 12th, 2024

Did you know that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month?

In this blog, NAPA paediatric physiotherapist Cait Parr shares information on traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and outlines TBI therapy options including intensive rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the result of trauma to any part of the brain. TBI is the most frequent form of brain injury and may affect ambulation, cognition, communication, swallowing, and the performance of daily skills. Roughly 1.7 million TBIs occur annually and approximately 80% of TBIs are classified as mild or moderate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two age groups at greatest risk for brain injury are ages 0-4 and 15-19.

What Are the Most Common Causes of TBIs?

The most common causes of TBIs include falls, motor vehicle accidents, assault, and indirectly, alcohol use. Falls and motor vehicle accidents are classified as unintentional causes, whereas abuse in infants and young children and assaults in adolescents are unfortunate inflicted causes of traumatic brain injury in childhood.

Surprisingly, in the case of motor vehicle accidents, traveling at a speed of only 15mph is enough to cause a TBI.  

Primary mechanisms of damage in TBIs are the acceleration and deceleration forces of trauma to the brain. Complications of TBI (also known as secondary mechanisms of damage) may occur during the first 12-24 hours after trauma or up to 5-10 days after injury. These may include an intracranial hemorrhage (pressure on brain tissue) or brain edema (swelling/inflammation as part of the body’s natural response to injury, causing increased pressure as well). Other complications include hypotension, electrolyte imbalance, anemia, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, hyperemia, hyponatremia, infection, epilepsy/seizures, and hydrocephalus

TBI Management

Management of TBI focuses on limiting the progression of the primary brain injury and minimizing secondary brain injuries. The clinical course of a TBI begins with global brain function impairments and then progresses through functional recovery phases. The most rapid recovery takes place in the first three months; at the end of that period, patients typically maintain this stable level of function without further deterioration. 

TBI Prognosis by Healthcare Team

A patient’s healthcare team typically develops a prognosis, or prediction, based on injury severity variables including the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), the length of coma, and the length of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). A “good” prognosis is typically given for a patient who can follow commands within two weeks of initial injury and has less than two months of PTA. “Poor” prognosis is given for those who are unable to follow commands after more than a month, have PTA for more than three months, and are older than 65 years of age. Statistically, a patient with a TBI unconscious at 3 months after injury is given a 36% chance of recovery, and unconscious at 6 months after injury is given a 21% chance of recovery. For those still unconscious at the one-year anniversary of their injury, there are fewer than 20 total verified cases of recovery.  

Paediatric TBI Therapy Options

Paediatric TBI therapy, or TBI rehabilitation involves a multidisciplinary approach. At NAPA Centre, our team of experienced physio, occupational, and speech therapists work together to create customised therapy sessions for children recovering from traumatic brain injuries. In addition to intensive therapy, families are encouraged to attend ongoing, weekly pediatric TBI therapy to bring continued recovery and progress.

1. TBI Physiotherapy Treatment

In TBI physiotherapy, we work toward maximizing physical recovery and independence in activities of daily living (ADLs). 

2. Brain Injury Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows TBI patients to breathe in highly concentrated oxygen to revitalise cells and enhance the body’s natural healing process.

3. TBI Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy treatment for TBI strives to improve independence and address challenges in adapting to the home and school environment, helping patients engage in daily activities.

4. TBI Speech Therapy

TBI speech therapy includes a variety of goals, ranging from feeding/swallowing to rehabilitation of word articulation and augmentative communication.

5. Family Support and Counseling

Even after less serious injuries, family support and counseling, in addition to medical care and therapies, are also vital.  

Paediatric TBI Rehabilitation

After initial intensive paediatric TBI rehabilitative treatment, when children reintegrate into the community and schools, intensive outpatient rehabilitation helps facilitate continued recovery and progress. A stimulating TBI therapy environment is crucial in encouraging creative and integrated use of functions, reducing behavioral difficulties, and helping increase self-esteem. Come visit us at NAPA Centre and see what we can achieve together! 

Did You Know That March is Brain Injury Awareness Month?

March is TBI awareness month. Every March, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIA) leads a public awareness campaign. The theme this year is My Brain Injury Journey. As explained on the BIA Website, 

“We wanted to draw attention to both the complex and unique nature of brain injury while also pointing out that living with brain injury is a very personal experience. One overarching theme that came up consistently is that brain injury is a journey, and the path survivors walk is neither predictable nor linear.”

About the Author 

Cait Parr is a paediatric physiotherapist at NAPA Centre. Her favorite animal is snails, because they remind her to slow down and enjoy the beautiful details about life. She loves desserts almost as much as she loves long walks with her husband on the beach at sunset. 

About NAPA Centre

At NAPA Centre, we take an individualised approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualised programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customised program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.

TAGS: Blogs, OT, PT, SLP
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