The Effectiveness of Robotics & Intensive Rehabilitation for Brain Injury

This month is Brain Injury Awareness Month, an annual event which aims to promote understanding, support prevention methods and improve access to rehabilitation services for those affected.

Brain injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of age or background and support.  Everyone who has suffered a brain injury will face different, unique challenges, and these can go beyond purely physical issues.

At The Rehab Physio we have extensive experience of brain injury rehabilitation and an understanding of how its impact can extend beyond the patient to those close to them.

Unfortunately, rehabilitation and recovery is often dependent on access to relevant information and resources.  In this blog we aim to shed a light on some of the more advanced techniques and technologies which are available to brain injury patients.

What is a brain injury

A brain injury refers to any injury to the brain, ranging from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) resulting from various causes including:

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): This type of brain injury occurs due to an external force impacting the head, such as in car accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, or assaults. TBIs can range from mild (concussions) to severe, leading to significant cognitive, physical, or emotional impairments.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI): ABI refers to damage to the brain that occurs after birth and is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Causes of ABI include strokes, brain tumors, infectious diseases (e.g., meningitis), lack of oxygen (hypoxia/anoxia), and toxic exposure.

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury: This category includes brain injuries not caused by external physical trauma, such as strokes, aneurysms, tumors, infections, or neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

What are the effects

The effects of a brain injury can be very varied depending on the type and severity of the injury, and which part of the brain has been injured, but may include some or all of the following:

  • Loss of or impaired movement in arms and/or legs
  • Reduced ability to do everyday things
  • Changes to brain function, memory and personality
  • Problems with balance
  • Altered muscular tone and spasticity
  • Headaches and dizziness

In severe cases, the effects can be long-term, and sufferers can have problems which impact their personality as well as their physical state. It can put pressure on their personal relationships, and limit their ability to live independently.

How can a brain injury be treated

As with most neurological conditions, the extent of the recovery and rehabilitation possible from brain injury is different in every individual case. The brain often has a surprising ability to adapt but the only way to access this ability is to put the right demand upon it, using advanced neurological physiotherapy techniques.

The latest research in rehabilitation indicates that at least 80 hours of intensive rehabilitation not only provides the best outcomes to patients with brain injuries and other neurological conditions, but also results in improvements which are more likely to last.

For neurological rehabilitation to be effective, a patient needs to experience enough of the right movements for physiological changes to happen. These changes to the nervous system are known as neuroplasticity and when the rehabilitation treatment is both frequent and often, result in the generation of new brain cells and nerve pathways.

Typical treatments for brain injury patients will focus on:

  • Strengthening and mobilisation exercises
  • Improving balance and mobility through use of mobility aids and postural re-education
  • Reducing muscle stiffness, spasms and pain through stretching programmes
  • Improve walking quality and reduce the risk of falls through balance work, gait re-education and training
  • Increasing sensation through sensory stimulation
  • Helping reduce foot drop through functional electrical stimulation (FES) and various orthotics

By using robotics and virtual reality, patients have the unique opportunity to:

  • increase their volume of practice
  • improve the quality and effectiveness of their therapy
  • achieve better treatment outcomes
  • achieve more sustainable improvements

Crucially, robotics technology helps measure progress and feeds back the information to the patient, highlighting real progress that the individual might not be aware of in themselves.  This can really help keep the patient feeling motivated and focused as treatment progresses.

Check out our patient stories to find out how we’ve helped to improve their quality of life (including Dominick pictured above) or find out more about intensive neurological rehab programmes and give us a call on 0151 665 0266.