What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney in Henderson, Nevada at Nettles Morris.

Despite vast medical advancements, the intricate functions of the human brain are still a mystery. As a matter of fact, it has been said that humans know more about life on the deepest ocean floors than they do about the human brain. It is such a sophisticated and complex structure that doctors are only beginning to understand how the brain suffers injuries and sometimes makes a miraculous recovery. This is an especially interesting topic for those with a loved one or relative who has experienced a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a term used for any head injury that results in bruising or damage to the brain.

How long can a brain injury take to heal? Sadly, no single answer will fit all cases. Some people make remarkable recoveries in a very short time. Sometimes brain injuries take a long time to heal, and sometimes the victim will never fully recover. But, this is not to say that recovery is purely speculative. Scientists have learned a great deal about the nature of brain traumas. The circumstances that can facilitate a full recovery are well known, as are the stages in the recovery of a traumatized brain.

Following is a brief summary of the latest scientific findings on the recovery process for TBI.

How Does the Brain Recover after a Traumatic Brain Injury?

The brain uses two important mechanisms for initiating the healing process after a traumatic brain injury:

  • Reparation and replacement of damaged nerve cells.
  • Rewiring brain pathways. In other words, old connections may have become broken or disrupted, and the brain must substitute these to regain full function. This can involve the application of various neurological processes such as behavioral substitution, diaschisis, etc.

These mechanisms of recovery can be significantly enhanced through medication, physical therapy, and other treatments.

Indicators of Recovery

Doctors are understandably reluctant to comment on the chances of recovery a specific patient may have, primarily because the outcomes are so different between one person and the next. There is no single way of knowing who will recover from specific injuries and who will not. Nevertheless, some indications have been studied and seem to improve the patient’s likelihood of recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

Some of these indicators include:

  • Shorter periods of time in a coma
  • Shorter duration of post-traumatic amnesia
  • Age of patient
  • Overall good health
  • High-quality rehabilitative care
  • Support from friends and family
  • Avoidance of stressors – especially financial pressures that can arise from lost wages and employer support.
  • The patient’s “can-do” personality or spiritual faith

Stages of Recovery

For the most part, the most significant recovery will be made within the first six months from the date of the injury. But many patients will experience greater challenges to recovery after this. Nevertheless, there are many cases where patients have made remarkable recoveries many months and even years after their injury.


In a coma, the patient is completely immobile and unconscious. They will be unable to speak, hear, or perceive what is happening around them in this state. It is during this time that the early stages of recovery will be underway.

Vegetative State

In the vegetative state, regular sleep-wake cycles resume as normal, yet the patient is unconscious. Certain reflexes may be observed by attentive family members and medical staff, such as opening the eyes. This is not necessarily a response to specific stimuli and is potentially a sign of progressive recovery.

Minimally Conscious State

While it may only begin with short lapses of consciousness, the minimally conscious state is a sign that the patient is recovering. At this point, they may begin to respond to certain stimuli and even regain a portion of their perception. Many patients can quickly regain the capacity to speak, understand instructions, and answer questions.

Full Consciousness

Once the patient has recovered to full consciousness, the recovery will be rapid and there will be many positive signs of improvement. Nevertheless, there may still be some difficulty recovering memory, and many times they will even lack the capacity to recognize their family members. This condition is called post-traumatic amnesia and can happen sporadically over the next few weeks of the recovery period.


Once the initial stages of the recovery period have been completed, there still may be physical, mental, or emotional damages connected to the brain injury. The patient will have to learn to adapt their lives to living with an impairment of unknown severity. It will be very important for the patient to have the help and support of their family and friends.

The transition between these stages is not always a simple step by step process. Many times a patient will take much longer in one stage than in any of the others. At times, certain patients may skip stages altogether. Other patients may seem to be progressing very well, but may suddenly regress.
Scientists have learned much about the nature of brain injuries and the best methods of restoring them to good health. But, there is still much being learned about this process every day. While the question “how long do brain injuries take to recover” may not have a definite answer anytime soon, it is good to know that rapid advances are being made every day.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From a Traumatic Brain Injury?

To gain a different view on the question, “how long do brain injuries take to recover” we can look to the studies of many experts in the field.

Here are the findings from Drs. Thomas Novack, Ph.D. and Tamara Bushnik, Ph.D., working with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC):

  • 25% of people recovering from TBI will suffer major depression. This can be a direct result of the injury or a result of the life changes brought about by the injury.
  • Within two years of the injury, 90% of all patients will move from a nursing facility to a private home.
  • 50% of those living with TBI will return to living alone within two years of their injuries.
  • 30% of TBI sufferers will need some in-home help within two years of the injury.
  • 30% of those who have suffered moderate to severe TBI will be able to return to work within the first two years of the injury.

Schedule a Free Consultation with our Personal Injury Attorneys

Nettles Morris is an experienced personal injury law firm in Henderson, Nevada with a long history of success. We offer a free consultation with our legal professionals to help victims through the complex legal process to get the compensation they deserve.

We will not charge you a cent unless we win you the case and get you the compensation you deserve. Remember that there is a time limit to these cases, so call us today and get the process in motion. Call 702-710-9964 to schedule your free consultation today.