How long it takes to recover from a brain injury and how much long-term impact there will be on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing will depend entirely on the severity of the injury and the type of care the patient receives.
In particular, the care and support given in the first 6 months will normally be critical. This is because the most significant recovery usually takes place during those first 6 months, so making sure the patient has the right care and support to maximise that recovery is essential.
What to expect during the first 6 months following a brain injury
In the immediate aftermath of a brain injury, the patient may need brain surgery to deal with any physical trauma, as well as to alleviate fluid build-up on the brain and other issues. How quickly and effectively such intervention takes place can be crucial for the long-term outcome, preventing further damage to your brain.
During the first weeks and months, the patient may spend time in intensive care before being transferred to a hospital ward, depending on how serious the injury is. They will normally have assessments with various specialists to see what effects the injury has had on their physical and cognitive abilities, as well as any impact on mood and behaviour.
Various types of treatment, including physical, mental and occupational therapy may then be recommended, based on the outcome of the initial assessments. Medication and further surgery may also be needed depending on the issues present.
Having the right rehabilitation treatment can be vital as it can help to stimulate the brain’s recovery. While damaged parts of the brain cannot regrow, the brain can effectively ‘rewire’ itself, allowing undamaged parts of the brain to take over some of the functions of the injured brain cells.
This is known as ‘brain plasticity’ and can be encouraged by practising the physical and cognitive abilities that have been affected by the brain damage.
By the end of the first 6 months, doctors should have a much clearer idea of what the long-term impact of the injury will be and how much further improvement can be expected to take place.
Brain injury rehabilitation after the first 6 months
Brain recovery should continue after the first 6 months, with significant improvement often seen for around 2 years following a brain injury. Some patients continue to see improvements for the rest of their lives, however, this does tend to be smaller than what is typically seen in the first 2 years.
For this reason, on-going physical, cognitive and occupational therapy can be highly beneficial for many years after a brain injury, with exactly what support is needed and for how long being entirely dependent on the circumstances.
Make sure you have the support you need for brain injury recovery
Brain injury rehabilitation relies on a number of treatments and other types of support, some of which can be provided by the NHS, but some degree of private care is likely to be needed, as well as specialist equipment, home adaptions and other types of help.
Claiming compensation for a brain injury is often essential to ensure you have all of the help and care you need to make the best recovery possible. If you believe you may have grounds for a claim, it is worth speaking to a lawyer specialising in brain injuries. They will be able to advise you on the strength of your claim, how much you might be able to get in compensation and how the claims process work. They should then be able to provide all the support you need when making a claim.