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Recovery from TBI

Author: Tracy Xu

Science Behind Recovery

As we know, brain cells can't regenerate after they are being destroyed.  However, traumatic brain injury can be recovered since our brain has neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the primary way that the brain can repair itself after a traumatic injury.

After you experience brain trauma, the neural connections will become damaged or destroyed. Through the plasticity of neurons, the brain will form new neural pathways to repair. Besides, it can transfer functions that were once held in damaged parts to new areas. 

Length of Recovery 

Typically, the first six months is when you will see the most improvement after an injury, the brain enters a heightened state of plasticity. After this, the progress tends to slow. The progress rate may vary depending on their condition. 

  • With mild TBI, most people recover most or all of their brain function within 3 months.

  • With moderate TBI, most people recover most or all of the brain function. Although neurosurgery, physical therapy, language therapy, psychological services and/or social services are still needed.

  • With severe TBI, it is difficult to predict recovery, because it depends on different situations. However, the long-term effects of injury usually increase with the increase of recovery time.

Recovery two years after brain injury

These are generalized data of the patients with moderate to severe TBI. 

  • 25% of people may develop major depression.

  • 30% of people may require some amount of assistance from another person. 

  • 30% of people may get a job.

  • 50% of people may be able to drive again, with some adaptation.

  • 90% of people may live in a private home. 

However, it is important to bear in mind that the recovery process is different for everyone. The time it takes depends on personal conditions as well as the seriousness of the injury. The above information and data are generalized but cannot represent every case.

Common Stages

  • Coma: No response, usually lasts for a couple of weeks.

  • Vegetative State: Generalize response, once a person begins to react in a purposeful way, they have entered the next stage.

  • Minimally Conscious State: Localized Response, Once the patient consistently responds to instructions and can communicate verbally and/or nonverbally, they have entered the later stages. 

  • Later stages: the ability to respond gets better over time.

Tips to Help Aid in Recovery

For Adults:

  • Get enough sleep and rest during the day.

  • Avoid strenuous and attention-demanding activities 

  • Return to your normal activities gradually until you have your health care’s approval, but not all at once. 

  • Take only those drugs that your health care professional has approved.

  • Talk with your health care professional about when you can return to work. 

  • Let your employer understand what has happened to you.

  • Ask talking with your employer about returning gradually and about changing your schedule.

  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages until your health care professional has approved.

  • If you’re easily distracted after this, try to do one thing at a time. 

  • Write down the harder things for you to remember.

  • Have discussions with your family members or close friends when making essential decisions.

  • Do not use the computer continuously.

For Children:

  • Get enough sleep and rest during the day.

  • Make sure the kid avoids strenuous and attention demanding activities until the health care professional says they are well enough.

  • Give the child only those drugs that are approved by the health care.

  • Talk with their health care professional about when the child should return to school and how the caregiver can help the child deal with the challenges that the child may face. 

  • Consult with school about changing kid’s activities and schedules.

  • Share information about concussion with parents, siblings, teachers, and others who interact with your child, and to help them understand what has happened and how to meet your child’s needs.



“Understanding TBI: The Recovery Process.” BrainLine, 26 July2018,

“Understanding TBI: The Recovery Process.” BrainLine, 26 July 2018,

“Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Stages: How Will the Process Unfold?” Flint Rehab, 18 Jan. 2021, 

“How Does the Brain Repair Itself After a Traumatic Injury?” Flint Rehab, 13 Jan. 2021, 

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