Head injuries can easily result from serious auto accidents. Severe trauma to the brain often entails a lengthy recovery period, which can be trying for the victim of the accident as well as his or her family members. The Mayo Clinic explains what brain injury patients can expect while on their road to recovery.

The first step is to understand the severity of the injury. This is accomplished by certain tests, which measure the amount of damage that occurred. Doctors utilize CT scans and MRIs, and these imaging tests look for bruising, fractures, and swelling. The Glasgow Coma Scale may also be used, usually right after the injury occurs. This establishes a person’s level of consciousness by performing certain actions and evaluating the patient’s response.

Once the scope and severity of a patient’s injury have been established, treatment can begin. For mild injuries, rest and monitoring are usually recommended. The patient may also be given mild pain relief for any soreness caused by the injury. More serious cases require extensive treatment, which sometimes includes surgery. For instance, any skull fractures will need to be surgically repaired. Conversely, brain swelling requires surgery to lessen pressure in the skull and prevent serious complications from occurring.

Once urgent medical care is administered, the medical team will then design a rehabilitation plan. These plans usually involve many different specialists, including speech pathologists to help the patient recover communication ability. Occupational therapy may also be necessary, and this helps a person relearn the skills needed to perform daily activities. Neuropsychologists may also play a role, and these medical professionals assess a person’s cognitive ability and introduce new coping skills and abilities.