Complex Care

How Do People Recover from Brain Injury?

Want to learn more about the recovery process for a brain injury? Sevita is here to help. Here’s what you need to know about the path to healing.


Understanding the recovery process for a brain or head injury can be much more challenging than a physical injury.

Unlike a physical injury, you can’t see a brain injury, and the treatment protocol and questions about recovery may be confusing, and frustrating for the entire family. 

In addition to the severity of the injury, there are outside factors that influence the recovery process for a head injury — and the long-term outcomes:

  • Was this person generally healthy before the injury?
  • What support systems do they have in place?
  • Are they receiving specialized care?

If you have a loved one who has survived an acquired brain injury — either traumatic or non-traumatic — and you want to educate yourself further on the recovery process, Sevita is here to help.

Here’s what you need to know about how people recover from brain injuries and a rough outline of what you can expect as their loved one.

Can You Recover from a Brain Injury?

Recovery from most kinds of brain injury is possible, whether a mild, moderate, or severe brain injury.

The truth is that the road to recovery from a brain injury cannot be determined in a short period of time. Every injury and person is unique, and that makes the healing process as complex and as unique as the individual.

For a mild head injury, the recovery process is sometimes more straightforward: individuals should expect to get lots of rest while taking physician-recommended medication for headaches and avoid triggering situations, such as bright light and loud or noisy environments. Rest and these small temporary changes in activity are usually enough to promote a quick recovery with thoughtful monitoring.

By comparison, moderate and severe brain injuries follow may not follow a straightforward recovery process. It is possible to see a full recovery, but it may be a long and winding road with many twists and turns.

The recovery process and long-term outcomes for a moderate or severe brain injury may also depend on some other factors, including:

  • Overall health before the injury
  • Access to specialized health care for brain injury
  • The severity of the injury itself
  • Support from loved ones

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Brain Injury?

The length of recovery for a traumatic brain injury depends on the severity of the injury.

Mild brain injuries like concussions typically have a quicker recovery time. In most cases, recovery from these injuries takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days, as long as the person rests and doesn’t overexert themselves. However, this will also depend on the factors we listed above.

The recovery time becomes much harder to predict with moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries. Since every traumatic brain injury is unique, the road to recovery and the length of time needed for recovery will change from person to person.

Most people will see the quickest part of recovery in the first year following the injury. After that, with different types of therapy — such as speech and physical therapy — the brain can continue to make improvements and continue the recovery process.

Plateaus may happen after the first few months following an injury — and that’s okay. However, it’s important for individuals not to give up and stay consistent with therapy. From six months to two years, many patients begin walking again, and cognition speed and accuracy may improve.

Treatments & Strategies for Brain Injury Recovery

When recovering from a concussion or a mild brain injury, a physician is likely to prescribe lots of rest, hydration, and possibly some medication to treat headaches. Following this care plan, the individual typically recovers within 7 to 14 days.

The recovery process for a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury is more complicated and typically involves complex medical care and rehabilitation.

Responding to a moderate or severe head injury starts with emergency care, which focuses on ensuring that the patient has adequate oxygen and blood flow to prevent further damage. From there, different treatment methods are used at different stages. Here are some of those treatment methods.

Medications

Different medications are prescribed to limit any secondary damage to the brain immediately following an injury.

For example, anti-seizure drugs may be recommended by a physician for people who are at risk of having seizures after sustaining a head injury. For the most part, these seizures occur during the first week of recovery. However, a qualified health care provider may prescribe anti-seizure medication beyond the first week if seizures persist.

Coma-inducing drugs may also be used immediately after a brain injury since a comatose brain requires less oxygen to function properly. In some cases, this temporary coma may be necessary to save the life of the individual.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is the longest part of traumatic brain injury treatment and recovery process. After proper medication and other strategies are used to make immediate repairs and prevent further damage, rehab helps a person move from a focus on survival back to a full life in their community.

Therapy for a brain injury typically begins in the hospital but will continue at a different location, such as a rehabilitation facility, residential treatment facility, outpatient center, or clinic. The length of time necessary for rehab will depend on the severity of the injury and each individual’s response to therapy.

Some common rehabilitation specialists for brain injury include:

  • Physiatrists who oversee the overall rehabilitation process while managing medical rehab problems and prescribing medications as necessary
  • Speech–Language Pathologists who help people relearn their communication, cognitive, and swallowing skills
  • Occupational therapists to help people learn and relearn the skills associated with their everyday activities
  • Physical therapists who help people regain lost motor skills
  • Neuropsychologists who help individuals manage behaviors and learn coping strategies

Depending on the injury and plan of care, additional specialists may be necessary for recovery.

Sevita Is Your Partner on the Path to Healing

Short-term or long-term care is sometimes necessary for people who have experienced a brain injury — and it also helps support ideal long-term outcomes. At Sevita, we offer Specialized Health & Rehabilitation Services so individuals that have a brain injury can recover and thrive.

We help people recover and rebuild skills by providing care that allows people to regain independence. Discover how we can help the recovery process for your loved one by calling us today at 800-743-6802. To learn more about our support programs and services, click below.

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