Brain injury happens when the brain tissue suffers an acute injury resulting in temporary, long-term or permanent damage. Each year, about 5,000 Albertans suffer a traumatic head injury while another 5,000 suffer brain injuries from non-traumatic causes like disease or health difficulties.

Causes of brain injury

The brain is a very complex organ and can be injured in many ways. Common traumatic causes include falls, motor vehicle collisions, assaults, being struck by an object, sporting accidents, drowning, seizure disorders, and poisonings. Stroke and aneurysm are the two most common causes of non-traumatic injuries. Brain injuries can have many effects and range in severity from a mild concussion to very severe.

Areas affected can include:

  • Memory and thinking skills
  • Personality
  • Speech and communication
  • Mobility (limb paralysis, decreased balance, loss of co-ordination)

How physiotherapists help

Physiotherapists are a key part of the brain injury rehabilitation team because of their skill in assessing how the brain injury has affected coordination, strength, balance, the ability to walk, and to do other mobility skills. Physiotherapists help brain injured patients restore or maximize function and learn new ways of doing everyday tasks. Each physiotherapy program is tailored to the patient’s injury and situation. 

Your physiotherapist will:

  • Assess specific physical problems such as weakness, poor balance or decreased co-ordination as it affects mobility and function
  • Set goals for recovery in collaboration with you and your family
  • Design a therapeutic exercise and movement retraining program to treat functional limitations
  • Work closely with other rehabilitation team members to coordinate and provide follow-up arrangements or assistive devices (walking aids, splints) if needed to promote continued activity

Find a physiotherapist to help maximize function following a brain injury.