Brain injury can range in severity from mild to catastrophic and no matter how a person’s brain injury is categorised, it is likely to have caused very significant impairments which reduce activity and participation and so adversely affect quality of life.
The causes of traumatic and acquired brain injury are many and include trauma from accidents, birth trauma leading to cerebral palsy, infections such as meningitis and encephalitis, hypoxia and anoxia from reduced blood flow to the brain during cardiac arrest, and spontaneous subarachnoid haemorrhage and stroke.
Every brain injury is unique and so rehabilitation must be tailored to the individual and their needs. Neurological rehabilitation is often a long and complex process which can help the brain to regain lost function, develop new neural pathways and learn alternative ways of working. This helps to minimise the long term impact of the impairments and increase independence.
A brain injury can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s cognitive, emotional, behavioural and physical function. It can alter the ability to see, speak, swallow, move, understand, express ideas, plan and execute tasks, and can lead to socially inappropriate behaviours and mood and anxiety disorders. Even people who have no physical impairment may be profoundly affected cognitively such that they cannot work, live independently or maintain personal relationships.
Rehabilitation after a brain injury may require the input of speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychiatry, neuro-psychiatry, psychology, neuro-psychology, nursing and medicine. It will almost always require the input of specialist brain injury case manager to co-ordinate the complex rehabilitation process. In many cases where there is potential for return to work, input from a vocational specialist will be required.
The NRC’s brain injury rehabilitation expert witnesses will assess and advise on rehabilitation potential, programme requirements to achieve goals and will specify how and where this can be delivered across a range of inpatient, outpatient and community rehabilitation services.
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