Treatment for TBI

There are three stages of treatment for brain injury:

  1. Acute—to stabilize the patient immediately after the injury;
  2. Subacute—to rehabilitate and return the patient to the community; and
  3. Chronic—to continue rehabilitation and treat the long-term impairments.

Acute Treatment for TBI

Initial acute treatment focuses on saving the victim's life. Rescue or emergency personnel unblock airways, assist breathing, and keep blood circulating. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be as necessary. Treatment then focuses on stabilizing the patient. Hospital personnel then take over, working to maintain the body fluid levels and prevent or treat infections and other complications. Several types of TBI require surgery.

Seizures may occur seconds, weeks, or years after TBI. A seizure can be a minor twitching of one finger or limb, or a complete loss of consciousness accompanied by involuntary movements of the entire body. Seizures can be particularly dangerous during this time, so most patients with moderate to severe TBI receive antiseizure medication for at least the first few weeks.

Another important aspect of acute care is the prevention of other medical problems. One concern is the development of abnormally high or low levels of sodium, calcium, sugar, or other substances in the blood that can worsen confusion and precipitate seizures. TBI patients also are at high risk for infections, including pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and sinusitis, which must be treated promptly and aggressively.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2001

Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015