Rehabilitation is the most important part of TBI recovery process. During the acute stage of brain injury treatment, moderately to severely injured patients receive brain injury treatment in the intensive care unit of a hospital before being moved to a neurosurgical ward. Once the brain injury patient is stable, he or she may be transferred to a subacute unit of the medical center, a long-term acute care facility, a rehabilitation inpatient treatment unit contained within the acute trauma center, or to an independent off-site rehabilitation hospital. Decisions regarding when and where an individual should be treated at a particular point during the brain injury recovery process depend on many different factors including the level to which the person can be actively engaged and can participate to some degree in the rehabilitation process.
Outpatient Care for Brain Injury Patients
Once the brain injury patient has been discharged from the inpatient rehabilitation treatment unit, the outpatient phase of care begins and goals often will shift from assisting the person to achieve independence in basic routines of daily living to assessing and treating broader psychosocial issues associated with long-term adjustment. Patients may suffering from brain injury complications in the areas of general cognition, social cognition/awareness, behavior and emotional regulation which may bring about significant challenges, in terms of being able to resume expected social roles. These problems are often complicated by adjustment issues that emerge as the person becomes more aware of lingering problems and faces the challenges of coming to terms with the long-term effects of the brain injury. Other concerns such as posttraumatic stress disorder may emerge and complicate the recovery process for the brain injury patient.
TBI Recovery Process: Family Support
It is important for the patient's family members to provide assistance and encouragement for the patient by being involved in the brain injury rehabilitation program. Family members may also benefit from psychotherapy and social support services. Support for caregivers becomes especially important during the outpatient phase of care when behavioral and cognitive problems may complicate and even hurt the relationships that patients have with those around them. Major challenges occur in sustaining these relationships, particularly in the context of marriage, when the impact of the brain injury considerably alters the relationship.