Focal brain injury is a subtype of traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries can be categorized according to the mechanism of the injury or the severity and type of trauma occurring in the brain. In this article, we discuss the possible causes, symptoms and treatment options for survivors of focal brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most common causes for an acquired brain injury[i]. According to a research article, risk factors such as age and sex affected the likelihood of one sustaining a TBI[ii]:
- Men were 60-80% more likely than women to sustain a TBI
- Young children (ages 0-4) and elderly adults (ages 85+) were most vulnerable to sustaining a fall-related TBI
- Children/adolescents (ages 5-14) and young adults (15-24) were most vulnerable to sustaining a motor vehicle collision-related TBI
- Children and young adults (ages 5-24) were most vulnerable to sustaining a sport-related TBI
What Is a Focal Brain Injury?
A focal brain injury is a traumatic injury to the brain that occurs in a single location, however there could be multiple areas affected by the event.
Related topic: Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Causes of Focal Brain Injury
Focal brain injury is produced by collision forces acting on the skull and resulting in compression of the tissue underneath the cranium at the site of impact (coup) or of tissue oppositely to the impact (contrecoup). Some types of injuries can result when both the site of impact as well as the opposite side of the brain are affected resulting in coup contrecoup injuries.
Falls, sport injuries, and motor vehicle collisions are all examples of causes of a focal brain injury. Other causes can also include a penetrating head wound or a gunshot wound[iii]. Depending on the site of injury as well as severity of the injury, many findings can result.
Secondary swelling as a result of brain injury can result in compression of the brain by the skull, leading to local bruising of specific areas of the brain[iv]. Vascular problems may also occur as a result of focal injuries such as
- Bleeding and compression of brain tissue (intracranial hemorrhages)
- Tearing of vessels deep inside the skull (intracerebral hemorrhages)
- Contained collection of bleeding in the brain (hematoma).
Symptoms of Focal Brain Injury
Signs and symptoms for individuals may vary. Focal axonal brain injury may include:
- Damage to the frontal pole leading to behavioural and emotional changes, such as irritability, anger, social inappropriateness, and difficulty planning goal-directed activities[v]
- Damage to the temporal pole leading to speech difficulties (comprehension and expression of language), processing of emotions, and sensation (light touch, pressure, temperature)[vi]
- Damage to the occipital pole leading to visual changes (including blurred and double vision)[vii]
- Weakness, difficulties with mobility and balance
Related topic: Improving Balance and Posture Makes Daily Activities Safer
Treatment for Focal Brain Injury
Survivors of a traumatic brain injury can present with a variety of deficits varying from physical impairments to cognitive challenges. Comprising a team of interdisciplinary health professionals can target the multifaceted aspects of rehabilitation. This is especially important when barriers to recovery are present as this may affect someone’s motivation to participate in rehabilitation. Barriers can include pain, pre-existing medical conditions, or depression and anxiety.
At Propel Physiotherapy, we see survivors of brain injuries that have complex orthopaedic and neurological injuries. Our team of highly trained therapists use their expertise in helping to achieve client’s goals and to maximize recovery. Examples of physiotherapy for survivors of brain injury could include:
- Application of neurological rehabilitation concepts (i.e. Bobath Concept or NDT approach)
- Practicing sitting, standing or dynamic balance reactions
- Strengthening and stretching
- Cardiovascular endurance training
- Sensory retraining
You may also enjoy reading: My Traumatic Brain Injury Road to Recovery
Our therapists create treatment plans that are specific and individualized to our clients in order to continue motivating our clients achieve their personal goals and to maximize recovery.
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