What Are the Stages of Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery?

10 Stages of Brain Injury Recovery Traumatic brain injuries are usually life-changing. Even a moderate TBI can cause long-term physical, emotional, and cognitive harm. Some of the causes of TBIs include car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, construction accidents, slips and falls, and personal attacks. Many TBI accident victims need to treat with numerous physicians and health care providers. Even when the condition stabilizes, the need for medical care can continue throughout the victim’s life.

The key stages of recovery, according to Flint Rehab, a medical care facility in Irvine, CA, are the following:

What are the stages of TBI recovery?

The stages, according to the Rancho Los Amigos scale, are based on the victim’s level of cognitive function. Different patients may have different stages of recovery – and different degrees of recovery within each state.

  • Stage 1. Coma. A coma is a deep state of unconsciousness. A coma isn’t always negative because the coma allows the healing process to start – uninterrupted. Patients in a coma don’t respond to stimuli. They require complete medical assistance. Signs of a coma include an inability to communicate, no purposeful movement, and no movement of the eyes. Most comas last for a few weeks.
  • Stage 2. Vegetative state. While a vegetative state is similar to a coma, patients in a coma do exhibit some neurological responses. Some patients may even seem awake. They’re not truly conscious, though, they may react to pain and loud noises.
  • Stage 3. Minimal conscious state. People in this condition may “drift in and out of consciousness.” Doctors might prescribe medications to help stimulate the patient’s brain – so he/she can regain full consciousness.
  • Stage 4. Post-Traumatic Amnesia. (Confused/Agitated, Maximal Assistance). This stage “refers to the stage after emerging from a coma when the brain is in a severe state of amnesia.” Victims of a TBI accident in this state usually can’t remember where they are, how they got to the hospital, and have no memory of daily events. Patients in this stage lose their inhibitions and may display aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Once the patient can consistently remember daily events, he/she is sent to a rehab facility.

The first few stages of recovery after a traumatic brain injury can take a few months’ time. The next stages include:

  • Stage 5. Confusion/Inappropriate responses. The patient is confused and his/her responses often don’t make much sense.
  • Stage 6. Confusion/Appropriate responses. People in this stage “can follow commands and carry on a short conversation, though they still have memory problems and cannot focus very well.”
  • Stage 7. Automatic/Appropriate. Patients in this stage can follow strict schedules but they have difficulty starting activities and planning ahead. They can’t live on their own.
  • Stage 8. Purposeful/Appropriate. Here, the patients’ memories and self-awareness have improved. Social interactions may be difficult, but they are developing coping mechanisms. With minimal help, they can live on their own.
  • Stages 9 and 10. Purposeful/Modified Independent. By these stages, patients have made a full recovery. “They can handle multiple tasks at once, initiate new tasks and plan ahead, and adjust to unexpected circumstances.” They still may have slower response times than before the accident – but they’ve figured out how to compensate.

There are many different ways healthcare providers who work with TBI patients help the patients through the various stages of recovery. TBI victims do need regular therapy after they return home.

Flint Rehab states that most brain injury recovery occurs during the first two years. After two years:

  • 90% of moderate to severe TBI patients lived in a private residence.
  • 50% of severe brain injury survivors can drive again, with some adaptations
  • 70% of severe TBI patients were functionally independent

Research is continuing. Some research shows that recovery does continue beyond the first two years.

Contact our skilled lawyers in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA today

At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver, WA traumatic brain injury lawyers understand just how long it takes to recover from a TBI, and how permanent your difficulties (or those of a loved one) are. We also understand how expensive all the doctor and therapy visits can be. We work with your physicians to completely understand your medical diagnosis, your treatment, and how much a TBI changes the life of a victim. We’ve been fighting for personal injury victims for 20 years and have obtained settlements and verdicts in over 2,000 cases. To discuss your injury case, please call our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA or Portland, OR today. Call us at 360-205-9615 or fill out our contact form. We represent TBI victims on a contingency fee basis.