Long-term rehab for brain injury victims may help recovery

It is no surprise to most Pennsylvanians that the road to recovery for those who suffer from brain injuries can be a long and complicated one. The cognitive and functional recovery after such an injury requires intensive therapy and months or years of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many people cannot afford long-term rehabilitation, so they stop treatment early. A recent study by researchers at University of California, San Diego, shows that this may not be the best idea.

Researchers studied rats with cortical injury in their study and found that rats who did not receive intense rehabilitation did not recover function or rebuild brain structure. But, rats that did receive the intensive treatment showed vast improvement. Therefore, it appears that intensive rehabilitation therapy over a long period of time can actually boost the recovery process for those who have suffered a brain injury. This means that rehabilitation may be able to encourage the repair and regrowth of nerve cells that were damaged, thereby increasing function in brain injury sufferers.

Researchers also found that the basal forebrain cholinergic system is critical to the rehabilitation process. The structures in this portion of the brain produce a chemical called acetylcholine, which sends signals to other cells to activate muscles in the body. Damage to this part of the brain can limit functional recovery for patients. While this was not part of the study, researchers believe that cholinesterase inhibitors may be able to boost the levels of acetylcholine and may help improve function in those with brain injuries.

Studies like this show that long-term care of traumatic brain injury patients is essential for a full recovery. Filing a lawsuit against those responsible for the injury may allow you to recover damages to pay for some of the medical bills that go along with this intensive treatment.

Source: UCSD Medical Center, “Longer, Intense Rehabilitation Boosts Recovery After Brain Injury,” Scott LaFee, Feb. 22, 2016