When a patient sustains a brain injury, she faces a long road ahead for recovery. As the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) pointed out in this diagram, brain injury patients can face several steps in the treatment process. The first step is the emergency evaluation. In cases of moderate to severe brain injury, the patient can be admitted to the Inpatient Intensive Care Unit. Patients may be put on a ventilator to help them breathe. The specific medications that a brain injury patient receives depends on her type of injury. For example, the NYU Langone Medical Center noted that a patient with anoxic brain damage, in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen, may receive barbiturates to slow down activity in the brain or steroids to reduce swelling. If the anoxic brain injury was a result of carbon monoxide poising, the patient may undergo hyperbaric oxygen treatment, in which she enters a sealed chamber and breathes in 100 percent oxygen.
The BIAA explained that brain injury patients begin acute rehabilitation as soon as they can. Acute rehabilitation takes place in an inpatient setting, such as a rehabilitation hospital. The brain injury patients will work with a team of medical professionals, such as physical therapists, neuropsychologists, neurologists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation nurses, speech-language pathologists, dietitians and social workers. Once a brain injury patient is ready for more intensive rehabilitation, she may begin postacute rehabilitation, which can take place in a residential rehabilitation facility. For a patient who is not ready for postacute rehabilitation, she may go to a subacute rehabilitation facility, in which the rehabilitation is less intense and done over a longer time. Following these rehabilitation programs, a brain injury patient can move into outpatients therapy.