Rehabilitation is defined as a process of assessment, treatment and management whereby the individual is supported to achieve their maximum potential for physical, cognitive, social and psychological function, participation in society and quality of living.
Rehabilitation is a goal-directed process which aims to reduce the impact of long-term conditions on daily life.
Rehabilitation aims to help the brain learn new ways of working in order to minimise the long-term impact of brain injury. Rehabilitation can also help the injured person and their family cope with the remaining disabilities.
Specialist neuro-rehabilitation is the total active care of those with a disabling condition and their families, by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) who have undergone specialist training in neurological rehabilitation. The team are supported by a consultant who is trained and accredited in neuro-rehabilitation medicine.
While most cells in the human body regenerate when they have been destroyed, brain cells do not.
However, this does not mean that some recovery will not take place. The brain is flexible and is able to reorganise itself, to a degree, in order to regain lost function, this is known as brain ‘plasticity’.
During the recovery and rehabilitation process other areas of the brain take over the activities that the damaged areas used to perform, creating new nerve pathways using undamaged brain cells. Taking part and engaging in activities can assist in the development of the new, alternative pathways.
Recovery from a brain injury is a slow process that can take months or years rather than days or weeks.
At six months post accident the overall picture will be clearer. After a year the degree of physical recovery can be relatively certain. However, cognitive/psychological recovery can take much longer than the physical recovery, and can be the source of long-term difficulties, and not just for the injured, but also for family members.
The myth that there is only a two year ‘window’ for recovery to take place before the individual plateaus has now been proven to be exactly that, a myth. Recovery and progress can continue to take place for years after the brain injury.
However there is some truth in the “Golden period” with the greatest progress and recovery occurring within the first 6 months to 2 years post-injury.
Sadly many seriously head and brain injured never fully recover to pre-injury health, but with rehabilitation can achieve meaningful recovery.