Recovering From a Brain Injury? You’re in for a Long Haul
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Recovering from a Brain Injury? You’re in for a Long Haul

brain injury treatment with wired electrodes

Sprain a tendon? Use the RICE method. Break a bone? A few weeks in a cast will get you back to normal. But healing brain injuries isn’t so cut-and-dry. In fact, they’re in a league of their own, and not in a good way. Recovering from a brain injury isn’t like regaining muscle strength in a cast-bound leg. There’s no formula of reps and sets to follow to rebuild cognitive nimbleness and flexibility. And increasingly, medical experts are realizing that, long after the acute healing phase is done, the long-term recovery continues. Many experts now recognize that, much like stroke, recovery from traumatic brain injuries lasts a lifetime.

The early stages of recovery

Neurologists often refer to the Rancho Los Amigos’ Levels of Cognitive Functioning scale. The Ranchos scale identifies distinct stages of brain injury recovery. Much like the stages of grief, people progress through it at different rates. Most don’t achieve full recovery. It’s possible to progress to the next stage, and then to regress again. Additionally, not everyone starts out at level one.

  1. Level one: No response. The patient is comatose, and does not respond to external stimuli.
  2. Level two: Generalized response. The patient is semi-comatose, and has slow, inconsistent, or delayed responses to external stimuli. Responses may include sweating, chewing, faster breathing, increasing blood pressure, moaning, and moving.
  3. Level three: Localized response. The patient is no longer comatose, and seems alert. The patient may turn the head to locate the source of a sound, and may follow simple directives, such as “blink your eyes.”

Later stages of recovery

  • Level four: Confusion and agitation. The patient is extremely confused and possibly scared. The patient may try to remove tubes and electrodes, kick or hit others, scream, and say unusual things.
  • Level five: Confused and inappropriate. The patient is still confused, but no longer combative. The patient may have better long-term memory than short-term, and struggles significantly with concentration and simple tasks.
  • Level six: Confused and appropriate. This stage can give hope to the patient’s loved ones. The patient is able to focus better, perform simple self-care tasks, and learn information, but still easily forgets information.
  • Level seven: Automatic and appropriate. The patient can perform routine, structured tasks associated with a normal, daily schedule. However, judgment is poor and safety is a concern because of it.
  • Level eight: Purposeful and appropriate. The patient still requires assistance, but is able to function at home and in the community. Memory is better, and new learning can occur. The patient may experience lingering deficits in judgment, reasoning, stress tolerance, intellectual capacity, and emotional stability.

How to afford your medical treatment and recovery

A serious brain injury can keep you out of work for a long time—perhaps even permanently. You’ll also have the expense of medical imaging and treatment, medications, and therapy specialists. If your traumatic injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Contact the Los Angeles brain injury lawyers at Ellis Law at one of our many locations in southern California. We know that your health is irreplaceable, and nothing can truly compensate you for any permanent disabilities you’ve sustained. But let us review your case for free, and we’ll see how we can help you secure compensation for your injury-related expenses, including your lost wages. Call our personal injury law firm today!

Additional brain injury resources

  1. Brainline, Traumatic Brain Injury: A Lifetime of Recovery, https://www.brainline.org/blog/getting-back-bike/traumatic-brain-injury-lifetime-recovery
  2. The Guardian, The truth about recovering from a brain injury, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/22/recovering-brain-injury