In recent weeks, the importance of funding post-traumatic brain injury (TBI) therapy with a personal injury compensation award has become an issue that has gained prominence across the globe.
This is mainly due to a fluctuation of head and brain injuries occurring in the world of professional sports; European rugby players, racing jockeys and American footballers in particular.
There are numerous different methods of rehabilitation available for people with TBIs, mainly due to the fact that all injuries differ from case to case, and this means that each therapeutic rehabilitation program must be tailored to each separate individual.
After all, a brain injury is indiscriminate, but rehabilitation is essential.
The brain is the most complex and least understood of all organs in the human body. Damage to the brain can result in both physical and mental impairment, which in some cases can be so severe that it has an extreme impact on the injured person’s ability to live their day to day life.
A rehabilitation program after any traumatic brain injury is a long and arduous affair. It involves an interdisciplinary team of medical and therapeutic professionals working together to assist the recovery procedure; assessing where any improvements may be needed along the way as the patient’s condition improves (or deteriorates), before implementing any changes in order to achieve discernible results.
Therapy aims to help people in such circumstances, and though there may be different methods employed to those mentioned here, the following five therapies are amongst the most relevant, important and successful available for people living with TBIs:
1. Neurological Physical Therapy
Very often, the immediate and pressing concern after a TBI is the injured person’s impaired physical function. For example, sufficient damage to the central nervous system affects areas including vision, balance, and general motor skills.
Neurological physical therapy is a specialist treatment often employed in order to assist in the rehabilitation process through the patient partaking in physical exercises designed specifically to encourage nerve regeneration.
Exercises are repeated to achieve improvements in the individual’s mobility and the restoring of function to as close to pre-injury levels as their condition allows.
2. Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a method of treatment that works alongside neurological physical therapy. It helps an injured person with their day to day activities, many of which are those that people with full capabilities take for granted. This can include anything from the seemingly simple task of cooking and preparing meals to dressing and self-hygiene.
The devastating effect that a traumatic brain injury can have on a person’s abilities to complete such tasks should not be underestimated.
An occupational therapist assists in improving and refining the injured person’s daily living experience through a variety of approaches, including:
- Installing adaptions at home to make tasks easier;
- Demonstrating alternative ways of completing the same tasks;
- Teaching completely new skills;
- Providing a general education for the patient.
3. Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy
Whereas the above two therapies are focused on the physical function of an injured person, cognitive rehabilitation therapy works to restore the functioning of the brain and mind.
This type of therapy helps the patient to ‘re-learn’ skills lost as a result of trauma, and to recognize and understand any of their cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
A neuropsychologist leads this branch of therapeutic rehabilitation and works on improving many functions within the brain, including but not limited to: self-awareness; attention span; the brain’s speed of processing thought; improvements in memory; the ability to plan in advance; conception of time; speech, language, communication and problem solving.
4. Cognitive Therapy
After a traumatic brain injury, cognitive therapy (CT) addresses any issues with behaviour, emotions and general psychological well-being via a patient/therapist ‘talking therapy’ program.
The principle of CT is that mental impairments such as anxiety and depression stem from an individual’s negative thought processes. For example, if personality and behaviour is affected to extremes or in ways that are socially unacceptable, cognitive therapy attempts to highlight and repair the thought processes that cause such behaviour.
If the patient is taught to recognize when these negative thought patterns occur and learn ways of coping with them, then it is hoped that in time they will have more natural and positive thought patterns.
5. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is related to the aforementioned cognitive therapy (CT), but combines it with behavioural therapy, and it is the most commonly practiced version of all types of psychotherapy.
Again, this is a form of ‘talking therapy’ between the TBI patient and their therapist, and addresses any psychological problems that they may experience as a result of their injury. The principle of this type of psychotherapy is that the patient’s negative thought processes are influenced by the meaning that they project onto experiences that upset them, in this case the TBI-causing event.
A prolonged program of cognitive behavioural therapy aims to reduce self-amplified negative thought processes, preventing the ‘downward spiral’ of anxiety and depression that may be experienced.
Anybody who achieves a successful brain injury claim should use their compensation funding to cover their necessary healthcare costs and TBI rehabilitation.