woman with a head injury

Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Car accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in Canada, requiring the need for rehabilitation. A traumatic brain injury occurs where an external force hits the skull against the brain. It can cause physical, cognitive, behavioural and social impairment and reduce the likelihood that a victim will ever work again or work in the same job.

Rehabilitation can help victims with their healing, especially when an intervention is made soon after the accident. It is also not uncommon to begin rehabilitation months or years following an accident. The specific type of rehabilitation will depend on the unique needs of the person and the challenges they face, taking into account the individual’s personal needs, pre-injury lifestyle, interests, abilities and goals.

Rehabilitation Programs

Brain injury victims have many rehabilitation programs available to improve their motor and cognitive skills. Neuropsychological testing is typically done to determine if the need for rehabilitation is evident and which services are recommended. In most cases, a hospital social worker or case manager will help direct a person to programs that offer the necessary treatment.

Brain injury rehabilitation is offered through traditional and alternative treatment methods. Traditional treatment methods include cognitive therapy, speech/language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neurobehavioural therapy and vocational rehabilitation. Alternative forms of treatment include craniosacral therapy, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, biofield therapy and meditation/mindfulness. The overall goal of rehabilitation is to improve the individual’s ability to function at home and in society. Sometimes specific goals are set to help the individual with independent self-care and housing, independent management of one’s own finances, and reentrance to the workforce.

Rehabilitation is offered in a hospital or other clinical setting or through an outpatient format. Community-based rehabilitations are commonly arranged at home or in outpatient rehabilitation facilities, community re-entry programs, independent living programs, or at brain injury associations. Medically-based programs are generally more intensive with greater frequency of sessions per week and hours per day. Home care can also be used as a bridge between the acute care hospital and an outpatient rehabilitation program.

Rehabilitation treatment is enhanced when family members can provide social and emotional support or commit to providing some of the therapy needed at home. However, family members are recommended to always put family relations first and only to play a role in rehabilitation if the rehabilitation doesn’t affect the family relationship. Brain injured individuals can easily become frustrated, overstimulated and fatigued and may need flexibility to deal with matters that slow or interfere with their treatment.

The length of time needed for rehabilitation will depend on the person and the severity of the injury sustained. Treatment can run from a few weeks or months to years or lifelong rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation Outcomes

The success of rehabilitation services can be measured by its outcome. Some measures of outcome for inpatient rehabilitation are changes in functional ability measured by the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) score, the proportion of patients who return to their own home upon discharge (as opposed to a nursing home), and patient and family satisfaction.

A brainline.org study on vocation rehabilitation found early intervention can increase the effectiveness of treatment. Success rates for brain injured victims are about the same as other vocational rehabilitation patients. The likelihood of returning to the workforce depends on the severity of an injury (based on the amount of time unconscious or number of days hospitalized) and the severity of impairment (in mobility, cognitive function and behaviours/emotional performance), suggesting that the hardest hit are least able to work. A higher success rate for brain injured victims was more likely among those with the greatest pre-injury potential; the likelihood of return to work after an injury increased for younger, higher educated, and those with higher pre-injury employment status.

Some barriers to more successful vocational rehabilitation include the complexities and characteristics of the injury, lack of or inappropriate services, loss of insurance benefits associated with vocational placement and community and societal constraints. Counsellors are not trained as brain injury experts and the programs are not adapted to meet the special needs of people with a brain injury. Further, high case-loads, time constraints and difficulties accessing rehabilitation are impeding factors. Sometimes even the most severely injured people are employed at least part-time post-injury in the long-run.

How a Lawyer Can Help

If you have incurred or suspect that you may have incurred a brain injury from an automobile accident, it is recommended that you obtain professional legal advice. Your lawyer can help you to obtain the appropriate medical documentation you need to obtain financial compensation and obtain the right rehabilitation treatment for your situation. At Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation, we are compassionate about the service we provide. Our injury lawyers have over 30 years of experience with car accident victims in Vancouver and our other six service areas in British Columbia. Call us today at 604-654-2250 and speak to an experienced brain injury lawyer in Vancouver.

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