Brain Injury

Brain Injury Rehabilitation in Chapel Hill, NC

If you or someone you love has been left with brain injury after a traumatic event, the aftermath can range from difficult to devastating. While the brain is an endlessly complex system and the subject of multi-million dollar research efforts, many of the effects of damage can be mitigated through careful and individualized rehabilitation efforts. At NC Neuropsychiatry Attention & Memory Centers, we offer compassionate clinical care to restore independence and quality of life to victims of disaster or hereditary issues.
The figure of the human brain with a stethoscope

Brain Injury Statistics

Excerpt from: Brain Injury Association of America (2003). Who are we?

Each year, at least 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain injury claims more than 50,000 lives and leaves more than 80,000 individuals with lifelong disabilities each year. The "silent epidemic" of brain injury is illustrated best by a 1999 statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-there currently are at least 5.3 million Americans living with a disability as a result of brain injury.

With traumatic brain injury occurring every 21 seconds, this public health concern ranks as the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults. For those who survive and their families, brain injury is life altering. Serious physical impairments are a frequent result, as are a variety of cognitive, behavioral and emotional complications. In addition, the costs related to brain injury are staggering. Individuals with severe brain injury typically face 5 to 10 years of intensive rehabilitation with cumulative costs exceeding $35 billion annually.

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Definition of Acquired Brain Injury

Excerpt from: Brain Injury Association of America (2004). Types of Brain Injury.

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth.

An acquired brain injury commonly results in a change in neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, the metabolic activity, or the functional ability of the cell. An acquired brain injury may result in mild, moderate, or severe impairments in one or more areas, including cognition, speech-language communication; memory; attention and concentration; reasoning; abstract thinking; physical functions; psychosocial behavior; and information processing.

Adopted by the Brain Injury Association Board of Directors, March 14, 1997.
Traumatic Brain Injury specifically refers to "an insult to the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature but caused by an external physical force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness."

Adopted by the Brain Injury Association Board of Directors, February 22, 1986.
Traumatic Brain Injury is a type of acquired brain injury, but acquired brain injury is not limited to traumatic injury.

Symptoms

Excerpt from Brain Injury Association of America Website (2003).

After an impact to the head, a person with a brain injury can experience a variety of symptoms but not necessarily all of the following symptoms. This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or examination. A person with a suspected brain injury should contact a physician immediately, go to the emergency room, or call 911 in the case of an emergency. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include can include, but are not limited to:
  • Loss of consciousness; however, loss of consciousness may not occur in some concussion cases
  • Dilated (the black center of the eye is large and does not get smaller in light)or unequal size of pupils
  • Vision changes (blurred vision or seeing double, not able to tolerate bright light, loss of eye movement, blindness)
  • Dizziness, balance problems
  • Respiratory failure (not breathing)
  • Coma (not alert and unable to respond to others) or semicomatose state
  • Paralysis, difficulty moving body parts, weakness, poor coordination
  • Slow pulse, and slow breathing rate, with an increase in blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy (sluggish, sleepy, gets tired easily)
  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears, or changes in ability to hear
  • Difficulty with thinking skills (difficulty "thinking straight", memory problems, poor judgment, poor attention span, a slowed thought processing speed)
  • Inappropriate emotional responses (irritability, easily frustrated, inappropriate crying or laughing)
  • Difficulty speaking, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing
  • Body numbness or tingling

Recovery and Outcome

Many people believe that people with brain injury experience a point of diminishing returns in terms of rehabilitative capacity after several months or a year post injury. However, patients can benefit from rehabilitative efforts even several years post-injury.

The following excerpt is from: Gualtieri, C.T. (2002) Brain Injury and Mental Retardation. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

"The outcome of any given TBI is determined by four elements:
  • The extent of diffuse microscopic brain damage
  • The patient's premorbid status and level of functioning (including IQ and psychiatric conditions)
Proper treatment for the patient with TBI requires an appreciation of the time required for recovery to occur... A severely injured patient is capable of functional gains for years after the event, as long as he or she stays healthy and properly engaged." (Gualtieri 2002, p. 5).

At NC Neuropsychiatry, treatment of symptoms and conditions related to brain injury is a specialty of our providers. We provide comprehensive and individualized treatment services for persons with a brain injury. Services include medication management, individual and family counseling, cognitive remediation, physical conditioning, vocational counseling, recreation therapy, support groups, and Day Treatment programming.
Are you suffering from cognitive impairment after a trauma? 
Call us today at (919) 933-2000.
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