What To Expect

What Everyone Should Know After a Moderate to Severe Brain Injury

Because the brain is the central hub for all activities and life, every brain injury is unique, causing different effects on behavior, emotions and the physical body. Included here are some helpful resources after you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury.

Different Levels of Care Given after Brain Injury

Glasgow Coma Scale

Often the first question asked after having involvement with a brain injury is,

“What can I expect?”

Most accident victims enter the hospital through the emergency room. The injury is diagnosed and appropriate action is taken. Some patients must go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital for 24-hour monitoring of their condition. Other injuries sustained at the time of the brain injury may require (ICU) services not necessarily related to the head trauma.


Many brain injury patients require time in the hospital for medical treatment such as recovery from surgery, healing of wounds, and setting of fractures. This is known as medical stabilization. Patients may be transferred from the emergency room or ICU, to a medical floor for observation, medical treatment and the beginning of rehabilitation services such as physical therapy.


After the patient has gone through medical stabilization, which can take from several days to several months, there are a variety of directions which may be taken.

The patient may be transferred to a physical rehabilitation unit within a general hospital, or a specialized rehabilitation treatment center providing skilled nursing care. Physical, occupational, speech/cognitive, and neuropsychological services can be provided on an intensive basis.
Some patients will not require skilled nursing care and may be transferred to a community program for brain injury patients. These programs offer both inpatient and outpatient services.
Some patients will go home with their families and return to the hospital or a specialized outpatient program for their therapies and treatment.
Some patients who require extended skilled nursing care will be transferred to a long term care facility.
Some patients will return home to receive therapy and around-the-clock nursing care.