Physical Therapy for Severe Brain Injury
Physical Therapy for Severe Brain Injury Rehabilitation
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Physical therapy for severe brain injury is far broader than relearning to walk. See the previous page. Physical therapy is key to relearning to use all of the muscles that are either injured or begin to atrophy during periods of inactivity. Periods of inactivity include during a coma.
The best care may include physical therapy during a coma to insure that the muscles and limbs are moved. The longer the coma, the greater the need for physical therapy during it. The physical therapy done during coma will be limited, because all that can realistically be done is have someone else move and stretch the muscles. Still, it is important that it is done and it may not just make the starting point for physical therapy for severe brain injury after emergence higher, it may actually provide some coma stimulation as well. The more that the entire central nervous system is involved in activities during a coma, the more the knocking on the door of the brain’s awareness that may be occurring.
After emergence from a coma, the hard work of physical therapy for severe brain injury begins. The first goal is to regain strength and range of motion of the muscles and joints. This will be painful. In physical therapy, with pain, comes gain. However, the physical therapist must understand the huge shock to the mood and behavioral profile that has occurred to the survivor. Patience, perseverance and family support will be key to successful physical therapy at this stage. The more that the family can encourage the survivor, the better the outcome will likely become.
The good news in physical therapy for severe brain injury is that most of the goals will be achievable, given the effort and the work. Most physical problems after severe brain injury can be overcome and those which can’t be overcome can be compensated for. The goals of physical therapy for severe brain injury are concrete enough that enough tangible progress can be made, that the frustration the survivor feels will be over come. See our treatment of relearning to walk. In contrast, the challenges of speech pathology (relearning to communicate) and the neurobehavioral problems after return home are much more complex and require considerably longer and a longer commitment to professional help. Yet, those challenges may not be as obvious to the survivor and medical professionals, making it more difficult to focus the resources and commitment to getting better.