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Traumatic Brain Injury

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury/acquired brain injury (TBI/ABI) is an injury to the brain caused by an external force, such as a blow, jolt, or penetrating object, to the head. TBIs can range from mild to severe and can result in a wide range of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, depending on the severity and location of the injury.


There are two main types of traumatic brain injury:


  1. Closed head injury: In a closed head injury, the brain is injured as a result of sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, without any penetration of the skull. Closed head injuries can result from falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, or assaults.

  2. Penetrating head injury: In a penetrating head injury, an object penetrates the skull and directly injures the brain tissue. Penetrating head injuries can result from gunshot wounds, stabbings, or other types of sharp objects penetrating the skull.


​Symptoms of TBI include: 

  • Headache

  • Dizziness or loss of balance

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fatigue or lethargy

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Memory loss or difficulty concentrating

  • Speech or language difficulties

  • Sensory changes (e.g., blurred vision, ringing in the ears, changes in taste or smell)

  • Mood changes (e.g., irritability, anxiety, depression)

  • Changes in sleep patterns

  • Seizures

  • Loss of consciousness (in severe cases)


The long-term effects of traumatic brain injury can vary widely depending on factors such as the severity of the injury, the age and overall health of the individual, and the effectiveness of treatment and rehabilitation. Some individuals may experience persistent symptoms and disabilities, such as cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, emotional disturbances, and changes in personality and behavior, while others may recover fully or experience only mild, temporary symptoms.

Treatment options

Treatment for traumatic brain injury typically involves emergency medical care to stabilise the individual and prevent further damage to the brain, followed by ongoing medical management, rehabilitation therapy, and supportive care to address symptoms, improve function, and maximize recovery. Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychotherapy, tailored to the individual needs and goals of the patient.

Can exercise help?

Exercise can play a significant role in managing traumatic brain injury (TBI) by promoting physical and cognitive recovery, improving functional outcomes, and enhancing overall well-being. Here's how exercise can help manage a traumatic brain injury:


  1. Physical rehabilitation: Exercise, including aerobic conditioning, strength training, and balance and coordination exercises, is an essential component of physical rehabilitation for individuals with TBI. Physical therapy aims to improve strength, endurance, mobility, balance, and coordination, helping individuals regain independence in activities of daily living and reduce physical disabilities associated with TBI.

  2. Cognitive rehabilitation: Exercise can help improve cognitive function and enhance brain plasticity in individuals with TBI. Cognitive rehabilitation exercises may include memory exercises, attention training, problem-solving tasks, and executive function training, which help to improve cognitive skills such as memory, attention, concentration, and problem-solving abilities.

  3. Mood and emotional well-being: Exercise has mood-enhancing effects and can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and emotional distress commonly experienced by individuals with TBI. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of well-being and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improving overall mood and emotional well-being.

  4. Socialization and community engagement: Exercise programs and group activities provide opportunities for socialization, community engagement, and peer support for individuals with TBI. Participating in exercise classes, sports, recreational activities, or support groups can help individuals build social connections, develop friendships, and improve social skills, enhancing overall quality of life and well-being.

  5. Improves sleep: Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce sleep disturbances commonly experienced by individuals with TBI. Physical activity promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and regulates circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep patterns and more restorative sleep in individuals with TBI.

  6. Enhances overall well-being: Exercise has numerous health benefits beyond physical and cognitive rehabilitation, including improved cardiovascular fitness, weight management, immune function, and overall well-being. Engaging in regular exercise can help individuals with TBI improve their overall health, quality of life, and functional outcomes.

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