Rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is becoming a more significant problem in the US, with significant morbidity and economic implications. This diagnosis encompases a wide breath of injuries from concussion to severe TBI. Due to this, rehabilitation is equally diverse in its treatment strategies targeting those symptoms that are functionally limiting with the ultimate goal of independence and community reintegration. In severe TBI, rehabilitation can be lifelong. Acute care rehabilitation focuses on emergence from coma and prognostication of recovery. Therapeutic modalities and exercise, along with pharmacologic intervention, can target long-term motor and cognitive sequelae. Complications of severe TBI that are functionally limiting and impede therapy include heterotopic ossification, agitation, dysautonomia, and spasticity. In mild TBI, most patients recover quickly but education on repeat exposure is imperative, with the implications of consecutive injuries being potentially devastating. Furthermore, rehabilitation targets lingering symptoms including sleep disturbance, visuospatial deficits, headaches, and cognitive dysfunction. As research on the entire TBI population improves, commonalities in the disease process may arise, helping rationalize therapeutic interventions and providing more robust targets for treatment.