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What are the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury can cause long-term effects which may affect everyday life, for the foreseeable future. These effects will vary depending on the extent of the individual’s injury.

Below are the 8 most common long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury and what treatments are available to help improve each condition.


A TBI can have an effect on a person’s state of consciousness. A severe level of arousal disorder will result in a patient being looked after in a coma or vegetative state. After a severe traumatic brain injury, some patients never fully regain consciousness. Patients who do regain consciousness may suffer from prolonged insomnia or daytime tiredness.


Treatment should be based on judicious use of medication (beyond hypnotic drugs) and greater emphasis on non-pharmacological management.

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TBI sufferers can experience several cognitive effects which may decrease their ability to learn and remember things. Attention and speed of processing information may also be affected.


Cognitive rehabilitation focuses on improving impaired attention and interpersonal communication skills. This form of rehabilitation is most suited to patients who are suffering from acute cognitive impairments. Treatment will allow them to begin to motivate themselves and function independently. Psychotherapy is also recommended to support both patients and their families. This therapy can reduce emotional stress and mental health issues caused by the TBI.


The ability to communicate effectively can be compromised due to TBI. Patients may experience a decrease in language abilities, finding it difficult to articulate words, therefore not understand others very well.


Rehabilitation can significantly improve communication problems, provided the condition is treated early, ideally when the patient is still in hospital. This form of rehabilitation will focus on improving the patient’s alertness and attention with the aim goal to make the patient function as independently as possible. Some exercises may focus on verbal expression, while others may focus on improving the patient’s ability to define words or pictures.

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Rehabiliation aims to regain lost skills as a result of the TBI and tailor the patient’s treatment to their specific weakness, whether it’s to improve speech or to improve the ability to define and describe.

See here for an overview of various aspects of traumatic brain injury


A TBI has a huge impact on the brain, causing emotions to become erratic and unpredictable.  The shock of TBI can have a great impact on a patient’s emotions; they may become very depressed and anxious, while others may become irritable and angry without any reason at all. 


The initial stage of treatment will include several examinations to determine the individual’s strengths and weaknesses; this may include a CT scan and a neurological examination. Once these assessments have been completed, they will identify the extent of the injury and how the individual’s brain functions. The family may be given advice on how to deal with behavioural issues in the home setting.

Dr looking at CT scan.

The patient will be monitored regularly to detect any new problems. If the patient’s behaviour starts to get out of control, changing the patient’s environment may address this issue. The patient will not be able to progress or learn unless they are comfortable and relaxed in their familiar surroundings.

Effective rehabilitation programs occur in the home setting where old learning is maximized. Although family members may want to constantly praise and provide positive feedback, realistic and accurate feedback is more beneficial to the patient as it encourages them to keep working on their behaviour, and understand the consequences when they act uncontrollably.


TBI patients will experience sensory problems such as visual disturbance, decreased balance and vertigo and a lack of hearing.


Repetitive retraining is the best option for treating sensory problems. If a patient has trouble performing a certain skill, for example drawing, the patient will undergo repetitive therapy until they have been retrained to complete the skill.

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Patients may suffer from reoccurring headaches as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Other effects may include muscle and joint pain.


To treat mild headaches which occur every few weeks there are several treatments available.

  • Over-the-counter pain medicines like  paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Heat or ice patches
  • Relaxation therapy/meditation
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture


For strong headaches which occur more than twice a week, a more frequent treatment may be beneficial to relieve the pain. A doctor will be able to prescribe the patient with the correct medication to treat headaches following a traumatic brain injury. Prescriptions may include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Blood Pressure Medications
  • Botox Injections

Motor Dyspraxia

Motor dyspraxia can impair coordination in daily activities, often causing patients to become quite clumsy.


Once dyspraxia has been diagnosed a range of specialists can help improve the patient’s on-going development. Below are the three most beneficial therapies:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Perceptual motor training

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Occupational therapy helps patients learn to cope with activities they have to carry out in their daily lives for example, dressing themselves and using cutlery.

Speech therapists will help the patient communicate to the best of their ability. This may involve patients getting involved in frequent exercises including learning to control their breathing to practising to project a certain sound.

Perceptual motor training helps improve the patient’s language, visual and movement skills. This treatment is completed over a series of training sessions to achieve continual growth and progress.

Bowel/Bladder Effects

A traumatic brain injury often affects a patient’s bowel and bladder causing incontinence.


Depending on the specific problem, there are a range of treatments which can improve bowel and bladder conditions.


  • Exercise -especially Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. This will improve bladder control
  • Diet – Eating foods rich in fibre will help manage constipation and diarrhea
  • Training programmes – Patients can learn to manage their bladder or bowel dysfunction by using a special programme, which sets outs a regular schedule for attempting to urinate or encourage bowel movements at certain times each day

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  • Medications – Supplements can be sold over the counter to help with these dysfunctions including fibre supplements
  • Electrical stimulationElectrical therapy works by stimulating damaged nerves  to encourage better muscle control to control bladder and bowel movements
  •  SurgeryIf the bladder or bowel has been severely affected, the patient may need to undergo surgery to repair muscle or nerve damage which is causing the bladder or bowel dysfunction


How Carter and Carter Solicitors can help

Our team of professional and approachable solicitors are specialists in dealing with serious injury claims, including traumatic brain injury claims. Whether your traumatic brain injury was caused in an accident at work, or during a road traffic accident, we will be able to take responsibility for your claim and help you win the maximum amount of brain injury compensation that you deserve. We understand that this time must be distressing and extremely stressful for you, therefore our solicitors are happy to arrange necessary appointments to aid your recovery as well as your claim.

For more information on what we can do for you, click here. Or call us free on 0800 652 0586