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Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery: Here’s What To Know

Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Here’s What To Know

Traumatic brain injury recovery will depend on many factors. But understanding the recovery stages of TBI and the process involved will help survivors and their families know what to expect. 

Traumatic brain injury recovery can be difficult and stressful enough just by itself. But many TBI victims must also confront the added pressures and stress of having to deal with physical injuries, emotional injuries, pain, fatigue, depression and even the added stress of lawsuits and litigation as many TBIs are caused by automobile accidents. All of these can complicate rehabilitation and interfere with the recovery process. 

An experienced TBI lawyer can help you get the medical care and treatment you need and offer you the resources to minimize the stresses caused by a lawsuit if you were injured due to the negligence of another. He or she will ensure that you and your family obtain the pain and suffering compensation and No-Fault benefits, including medical care, that you are entitled to under the law and that you make the best possible recovery from your injuries.   

Traumatic brain injury recovery stages

There are approximately 10 traumatic brain injury recovery stages: (1) coma; (2) vegetative state; (3) minimally conscious; (4) amnesia; (5) confusion; (6) inability to focus; (7) cannot live independently; (8) mostly independent living; (9) functionally independent living; and (10) essentially a full recovery.

Here are details about each of the TBI recovery stages:

  • A coma differs from a vegetative state in that someone in a coma has no neurological responses whereas a TBI survivor in a vegetative state will have regained some of his or her reflexes – even though he or she has not regained consciousness.
  • Minimally conscious is where a TBI survivor drifts in and out of consciousness, but is aware of his or her surroundings, the world and other people.
  • Amnesia can be retrograde, meaning the TBI survivor does not remember what happened during the crash and/or other events in the past. Amnesia can also be anterograde, which means the TBI survivor is not able to form new memories.
  • In the confusion stage, TBI survivors have trouble making sense when they’re talking and/or answering questions.
  • The “inability to focus” stage is characterized by memory problems and an inability to focus or follow trains of thought, but survivors are generally better able to communicate in this stage.
  • A TBI survivor’s living arrangements become more independent as he or she improves his or her ability to initiate activities and make plans, as he or she depends less on help from others, and as the survivor can handle multiple tasks, initiate new tasks as they’re needed and adjust to unexpected events and occurrences. 

Traumatic brain injury recovery process

The traumatic brain injury recovery process generally begins with acute care in an emergency room and eventually progresses to community reintegration and, hopefully, a full recovery and a return to fully independent living.

In the hospital, a TBI survivor’s rehabilitation process will likely involve the emergency room, followed by the intensive care unit, and then a transition to what is called “step-down” units for specialized – albeit less intensive – treatment.

Outside the hospital setting, a survivor’s traumatic brain injury recovery process may involve: (1) inpatient rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility; (2) post-acute residential transitional rehabilitation; (3) day treatment in a structured group setting; (4) outpatient therapy; (5) home health services; and (6) independent living programs.

The majority of TBI victims do not require these inpatient rehabilitation services. But that does not mean their TBI injuries are not also very serious. Doctors and TBI specialists will warn that people with “mild” to “moderate” TBI injuries still can have very serious injuries and they can also be permanent and permanently disabling.    


Effective traumatic brain injury recovery treatment will likely involve: (1) care by a neuropsychologist and neurologist; (2) cognitive-behavioral remediation; (3) occupational, physical and vocational rehabilitation and therapy; (4) speech therapy; (5) sensory retraining; and (6) medication. 

Traumatic brain injury recovery time

The amount of time needed for traumatic brain injury recovery is different for every TBI survivor.  Doctors and TBI specialists do not yet know why this is. The medical literature often refers to some percentage of the population as the “miserable minority,” people that tend not to recover and often worsen as a result of a trauma to the brain. Science now believes that this is most likely caused by a person’s  genetic predisposition, and that there is some segment of our population where chemical and inflammatory changes continue and where because of genes and heredity they are more at risk to severe impairments caused by a TBI. Obviously, these genes and genetic predisposition to these type of injuries can significantly complicate rehabilitation time.    

Other common factors that affect the rehabilitation time for an automobile crash TBI survivor include: (1) how soon after the crash the TBI was diagnosed and treatment was started; (2) the type of treatment and the survivor’s response; (3) whether other injuries were also suffered that could compound and worsen the symptoms of a traumatic TBI; (4) pain, fatigue, depression and sleep disturbances. 

Traumatic brain injury recovery statistics

Traumatic brain injury recovery statistics show the following about TBI survivors within the first two years: (1) 50% could resume driving (with some modifications and restrictions); (2) 70% resumed functional independence; (3) 90% were again living in private residences; and (4) 30% worked full-time.

Importantly, 30% of TBI survivors continue to need assistance from others – during the day or at night or both. 

Many of the TBI survivors that find full-time work will likely be working at jobs different than the ones they had before they suffered a TBI. 

Unfortunately, approximately 25% of TBI survivors also experience depression. 

Research has also showed the TBI survivors face higher risks of: (1) dementia; (2) Parkinson’s Disease; (3) Alzheimer’s Disease; (4) suicide; (5) chronic pain; and (6) divorce.

Get Help Now From A Michigan TBI Lawyer

If you have suffered a TBI after an automobile crash and you have questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and No-Fault benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages, you can speak to an experienced Michigan TBI attorney at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced mild TBI attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.

For more than 50 years, our injury lawyers have been helping people like you who have suffered a TBI in an automobile crash. We understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardships you are experiencing from your accident. 

We can help.

Our law firm consistently wins record-breaking TBI verdicts and settlements in the state on behalf of crash victims who are TBI survivors like you. Even more important than our record TBI settlements and trial verdicts in the state is how our attorneys treat the people we help. To see what our own clients have to say about the caring, compassion, and communication they received from us, you can read in their own words about their experience here on our testimonials page from the crash victims we have helped. You can also read about our 100% client satisfaction guarantee.

(Sources: Flint Rehab; Brain Injury Association of America, “Treatment” page; MSKTC – Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center – SCI – TBI – Burn, TBI Fact Sheet – Understanding TBI)