Traumatic injury to the brain may lead to long-term changes including, physical, cognitive, visual, and emotional impairments. It may change the individual’s ability to perform daily life tasks, functioning, community participation, etc. This can have devastating and complex effects on the patient and their families. It may have long-term impact and can significantly disrupt daily life. The patient’s ability to engage in routine activities may be adversely affected. Financial instability, or relationship breakdown, can occur.
Why is participation in daily life roles important?
Participation in everyday life activities and work is one of the most important goals of TBI recovery and rehabilitation. However, for long-term involvement, identifying predictors is a complex process. It is a complicated interaction between various factors, like motor, physical, emotional, and cognitive deficits.
After suffering TBI, the primary purpose of getting back to daily life is to allow the patient to return to the best functionality possible where everyday life is not affected. However, it must be noted that no two cases are the same, and their effects differ from patient to patient.
Effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Minor traumatic brain injury can impair brain function temporarily. As a result, it can lead to several difficulties, like dizziness, headaches, irritability, memory problems, and fatigue. In most cases of minor TBI, the patients become symptom-free within two weeks. However, some people may experience TBI problems for several months or years.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury leads to long-term effects. In such cases, the patients develop complex long-term problems that affect their personality, relationships, and ability to conduct an independent life. Thus, even after recovery and good rehabilitation, the patients and their families face many challenging situations. Depending on the injured brain part, TBI has varying degrees of impact. The effects are divided into various categories as follows.
Physical Effect: Most TBI patients make an excellent physical recovery after sustaining a head injury. Some people may present some physical issues which can have a tangible impact on daily life. TBI can lead to mobility issues, spasticity, hemiparesis or hemiplegia, sensory impairment, ataxia, headaches, sleep changes, dizziness, fatigue, difficulties with bladder and bowel. Some patients have problems swallowing and balance/coordination problems. Every TBI patient has a specific set of physical impacts, and each individual has a different recovery rate.
Cognitive (Thinking) Effect: Different mental abilities are located in various parts of the brain. So, a traumatic brain injury can affect some skills like memory, speed of thoughts, problem-solving ability, and use of language, empathy, or understanding. TBI can seriously impact the way a patient thinks, remembers, and learns. It causes issues with focus and attention. Other cognitive effects of TBI include distractibility, slow processing speed, confusion, perseveration, impulsiveness, rule acquisition, abstract thinking, etc.
Emotional Effect: People with TBI are often left with changes in emotional reaction. Emotional impacts are more difficult to see than other noticeable issues, like changes in movement or speech. This toll on emotional capability is the most difficult for the patients and their families to deal with. Some commonly seen changes in the patients with TBI include personality changes, mood swings, sense of loss, depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Behavioral Effect: After a traumatic brain injury, behavioral changes are distinct for different patients. Some people appear entirely out of character or show exaggeration of their previous personality characteristics. Other changes include inhibition, impulsiveness, irritability, aggression, obsession, apathy, egocentricity, or show fluctuating emotions.
The effects of TBI on daily life may be long-lasting. However, with recovery, support, and rehabilitation, patients can face life challenges that need acceptance and adjustment to a new reality. The tailor-made rehabilitation process is the key to faster and better quality of life after a traumatic brain injury.