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Home > 10 Stages of Brain Injury Recovery

10 Stages of Brain Injury Recovery

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Patients who suffer from brain injuries may experience 10 stages of recovery on the path to healing. Traumatic brain injury victims often require treatment for many years—sometimes for the rest of their lives. The costs of treatment and therapy can be financially overwhelming. If you’ve suffered a brain injury in Pennsylvania from someone else’s fault, the attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. You may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses. Call today.

Traumatic brain injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, violent attacks, or other trauma to the head are life-altering. Patients often experience long-term physical, mental, and cognitive changes, even with moderate injury. Recovery may take months or years, and some brain injury patients require medical care and therapy for the rest of their lives.

According to the National Institutes of Health, most of the recovery following a brain injury occurs within the first two years. Patients who show improvement and progress through the stages of rehabilitation during that time have the greatest chance of having positive outcomes. Generally, traumatic brain injury victims experience 10 stages of brain injury recovery. However, all patients are unique. Not every patient will experience each stage. Healing depends on the individual patient and the nature of their brain injury. 

What Are the Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Stages?

Following a traumatic blow to the head, the brain shuts down in the early coma recovery stages to attempt to heal. As the brain heals, the patient will slowly regain consciousness. Time and therapy can help brain injury victims recover and regain the abilities they lost because of their injury. 

SYMPTOMS TO LOO AFTER A FALL INFOGRAPHICS-01

Stage 1: Coma

A coma is a long state of unconsciousness, typically lasting no more than several weeks. This first stage of recovery allows the brain to heal without interruption. Since the patient doesn’t respond to outside stimuli, the brain has time to rebound from trauma without the added work of processing the world around it. During this time, the patient completely depends on medical care providers. 

Signs a patient is in a coma include:

  • Lack of verbal communication
  • Depressed brainstem reflexes, such as pupils that don’t respond to light
  • Absence of purposeful movement
  • Failure to respond purposefully to painful stimuli
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Lack of eye movement

Stage 2: Vegetative State

The coma patient who transitions into a vegetative state shows signs that the brain has begun responding to the environment around it. Even though they may appear awake, with eyes open and moving, the patient is still unconscious. They may reflexively respond to pain and loud noises. Moving from a coma to a vegetative state may be a sign that injured areas of the brain have begun to heal.

Stage 3: Minimal Consciousness

A patient has moved to the minimal consciousness stage of the recovery process when they react to stimuli and communicate by responding to instructions. During this stage, they may move in and out of consciousness, seem aware of where they are, and may apprehend other people in the room. The patient’s doctor may prescribe medication to stimulate the brain into waking fully.

Stage 4: Post-Traumatic Amnesia

It’s not uncommon for traumatic brain injury victims to experience gaps in memory once they wake up. This condition is known as retrograde amnesia. In some cases, the patient may experience anterograde amnesia, which prevents them from making new memories of day-to-day life and keeps them from learning new concepts.

Traumatic brain injury victims in this stage may demonstrate the following:

  • Signs of confusion and agitation
  • Failure to remember where they are or how they got there
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Aggressive or inappropriate behavior untypical of their personality before the accident

Stage 5: Confusion with Inappropriate Responses

The patient is sent to a rehabilitation facility once they can remember events consistently. While memory improves in this stage, confusion and the inability to respond can continue. These are all signs that the later stages of brain injury recovery have begun. The patient may demonstrate the following:

  • Trouble focusing on daily tasks
  • Difficulty with communication
  • Communication that doesn’t make sense to those around them

Stage 6: Confusion with Appropriate Responses

While memory and focus are still affected, the patient can better follow instructions and communicate their needs at this stage. The patient may also be able to carry on short conversations.

Stage 7: Automatic with Appropriate Responses

A patient who has reached this stage of the recovery process can follow a routine and do some activities independently, but they may still have trouble planning and completing other tasks without assistance. During this stage, the brain injury victim cannot live alone but may receive physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to move them toward the goal of independent living.

Stage 8: Purposeful with Appropriate Responses

The patient shows improved awareness and memory. Some traumatic brain injury patients can return home with minimal help from others in this stage. They have learned strategies to navigate areas of deficit, which may include difficulty with:

  • Social interactions
  • Reaction time
  • Handling unplanned situations

Stages 9 and 10: Purposeful with Modified Independence

The patient can complete most daily living tasks independently. Some may even experience a complete recovery and return to life as it was before the accident. For others, cognition continues to be affected, and they require regular therapy to strengthen the injured areas of the brain.

Why Hire an Experienced Brain Injury Lawyer

If you or a family member suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury due to another party’s negligent behavior, you need an experienced brain injury lawyer on your side. Whether you were injured in a motor vehicle crash, slip-and-fall accident, or violent assault, the cost of treating a brain injury can quickly overwhelm your family’s finances. You and your family shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake when someone else is responsible.


Pennsylvania brain injury lawyer at Cordisco & Saile LLC can explain your rights and help you pursue compensation. Damages awarded in a traumatic brain injury case can cover your medical costs, therapy, modifications to your home, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. 

Why choose Cordisco & Saile LLC?

Client Testimonials & Case Results

We treat our clients like family, and they appreciate our personal attention and compassionate service. Representing clients in Bucks CountyPhiladelphia, the  Lehigh Valley, and throughout Pennsylvania, our attention to detail gets results. We have recovered millions of dollars recovered for brain-injured clients, including the following:

  • $10 million for brain and spinal injuries from a Philadelphia truck accident
  • $2.9 million for brain injuries from a Bucks County motorcycle accident
  • $1 million for brain injuries from a Bucks County car accident
  • $470,000 for brain injuries caused by a wave runner accident
  • $242,500 for brain injuries from a minor impact rear-end accident
  • $195,000 for brain injuries from a Bucks County bicycle accident
Brain injury top 25 trial lawyers award

Awards & Accolades

We’re an award-winning team of personal injury lawyers. Our attorneys have been recognized by:

  • The National Trial Lawyers – Brain Injury Top 25
  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy
  • American Trial Lawyers Association
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
  • Avvo.com
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 10 Pennsylvania  Trucking Accident Trial Lawyers
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 25 Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Lawyers 
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel Top One Percent
  • Attorney and Practice Magazine’s Top 10 Attorney Awards

Let Our Brain Injury Attorneys Help You

Recovery from a brain injury is a long, arduous process. You deserve justice and compensation if someone else’s conduct puts you in this position. A personal injury settlement can provide you with the financial peace of mind you need to move forward with your life. Contact Cordisco and Saile LLC today to get started on the road to recovery.

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