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Traumatic Brain Injury

Treatment & Rehabilitation

Treatment and rehabilitation encompasses a wide range of medical and clinical services. We highlight a few of the professionals who may be addressing aspects of recovery:

Neurologists/Physiatrists are physicians who specialize in brain injury.

  • A neurologist is a medical doctor who has specialized training in diagnosing and treating all disorders of the brain and nervous system. When a person has a neurological condition, such as a brain and/or spinal cord injury, a neurologist is often the primary care provider. Neurologists work alongside other physicians, in a hospital setting, in managing the care and treatment for neurological conditions.
  • A physiatrist is a physician who specializes in rehabilitation medicine. Rehabilitation physicians are nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. This physician often manages the care program of an individual receiving inpatient therapy services. Physiatrists work alongside other professionals, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists, to provide neurologic rehabilitation. 

Neuropsychologists have extensive training in the area of psychology specializing in brain-behavior relationships. A clinical neuropsychologist assesses behavioral, cognitive, and psychological consequences of brain trauma. This type of assessment is important for documenting the effects of brain injury and in determining rehabilitation services that may help an individual adjust to and compensate for the disabilities.

Therapy services are provided by a number of professionals:

  • A physical therapist is a professional who focuses on restoring physical use of the body. The physical effects of a traumatic brain injury may include a number of symptoms including decreased motor skills, lack of balance, increased or decreased muscle control, and partial or total paralysis. You may see a physical therapist to help regain balance for more controlled walking and muscle strength to help perform activities of daily living, such as walking up stairs.
  • An occupational therapist is a professional who helps you develop greater independence in activities of daily living. For example, an occupational therapist will help you work to regain the use of fingers, hands, to relearn hand-eye coordination, and to relearn self-care skills (such as bathing and dressing). These are important skills to learn in order to become independent in home and community.
  • A speech-language pathologist is a professional who assesses and provides treatment for communication concerns (speech, language, and cognition) and impaired swallowing. Depending on your needs, therapy can focus on cognitive rehabilitation (to help attention, memory, and problem-solving), speech production, including use of augmentative and alternative communication strategies, and/or other language-related concerns (e.g., word-finding ability).

Assistive technology is a broad term that includes assistive and rehabilitative devices that we use to maintain and/or improve capabilities to perform tasks of everyday living. This might include simple adaptations for everyday items, such as the use of Velcro to help make objects easier to pick up. On the other hand, it may include customized and specialized equipment, such as hearing aids or computer-like devices for someone who no longer has natural speech.