How Does a Brain Injury Heal?

No two people are alike in how fast they improve or how much they recover. In order to choose a care plan, the health care team must make some prediction about how much recovery can be expected. The factors considered when predicting recovery can include the following:
• How long the patient was in a coma.
• The severity of the brain injury.
• The age of the injured person.
• Whether or not there were other injuries that might affect recovery.
Rancho Scale level.
• How long it takes for the person to begin remembering events on a day-to-day basis.
• How long they have post-coma amnesia.

The Healing Power of the Brain

Most scientific studies agree that, unlike a broken bone or a cut on the skin, damaged brain tissue does not mend itself.

However, in some cases, uninjured parts of the brain are able to take over or compensate for injured parts, or the brain learns to re-route information around the damaged areas.

Recovery is also possible once swelling goes down or blood has been absorbed into the system. Both processes can take several weeks and show signs that some of the damage may have been temporary.

Making Decisions About Medical Care

As early as 24 hours after your loved one’s injury, the health care team may begin talking about the choices you must face about the next phase of care for your loved one. These choices may involve different options for rehabilitation, transitional care, a skilled nursing facility, or possibly home care.

While these decisions may feel rushed to you, experts know that early treatment can maximize recovery and minimize long-term problems.

Brain injury rehabilitation can begin before or after your loved one fully emerges from a coma. Your health care team can help you make these decisions. Some guidelines for making your decision are on page “Where Will the Journey Go From Here?.”

A Recovery Timetable

The exact amount of recovery is not predictable at the time of injury. Each injury and rate of recovery are unique. Recovery from a severe brain injury often involves a long process of treatment and rehabilitation which can last a lifetime.

What is Brain Injury Rehabilitation

The goal of rehabilitation is to help the injured person regain the most independent level of functioning possible. The actual rehabilitation process is different for everyone.

The kinds of treatments used, how long they last, and in what setting they are provided, will depend on each person’s specific injury and needs.

Brain injury rehabilitation involves medical treatments and exercises to improve memory, thinking ability, behavior, coordination, and speech. Rehabilitation also involves learning new ways to make up for abilities that have been changed forever due to brain injury. Rehabilitation also includes family education. You and your entire family must learn about brain injury so you can understand the changes in your loved one’s behavior and personality.

44 Year old woman who survived 2 week coma
“I’ve got a lot of things to do. I have to rediscover life because it has completely changed. In a sense, it’s been tragic; in another sense, it’s been a blessing. I’m going to be a better person when all of this is over.”

— 44-year-old mother of three who survived a two-week coma after being injured in a head-on collision.


Traumatic Brain Injury Booklet CoverBrain Injury: A guide for family and friends

Table of Contents

What is a Brain Injury?
How Bad Is It?
How the Brain Functions
Common Problems During Early Recovery
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
Understanding Coma
How Does an Injured Brain Heal?
How You Can Help With Recovery
• Where Will the Journey Go From Here?
How Will I Ever Get Through This?
Where to Go for Help
• Books for Families Coping With Brain Injury


  1. Hella Daniel says

    My bf went to the ER and we he have subarachnoid hemorrhage from an aneurysm ruptures died he is only 30years old . They put in induced comma because he had swelling after 72 hrs his brain is not sending information and and it’s been 5 day since. Can someone please tell me if there is anything that can be done to minimize the swelling or anything at all please

  2. My dad met with an accident andleft side of his head was injured. His right hand leg got paralysed and he is not remembering anything and unable to speak but he gives response to everything how much time does it takes to speak and for complete recovery can U plz answer

  3. My husband had a tumor in his cerebellum which grew before his surgery occurred to remove the tumor. The day before the surgery he had a brainstem infarct and now only is able to do the following:

    open his eyes and move them up and down
    move his right arm but not on command
    move his legs but not on command

    it has now been 2 months, is there anything I can do to stimulate his brain?

  4. Nicholas says

    2years into rehab still cant control left arm good or left leg will that ever get any better

  5. Cindy Schmidler says

    Best wishes and prayers for you and your family as you walk with your dad in his recovery.

  6. My Dad hit his head during a fall. He was on eliquis so he got a bad brain bleed. The Neurosurgeon stopped the bleeding and Dads been unconscious since. 16 days today. He has opened one eye and will blink when asked to blink if he can hear us. He’s moving both legs spontaneously and will squeeze your hand at times. He’s on a Trach collar with oxygen. We have so many Prayers going up for him

  7. Cindy Schmidler says

    I’m sorry to hear about your battle with depression and anxiety. If you haven’t seen your doctor about it, please do as these symptoms can often be treated very effectively.

  8. I wish the depression and anxiety would stop. I am living in a postbox and my only interaction with the world is through the letter slot. My emotions are all over the place. I feel angry at everything and I would love to slap back. If I don’t die soon I might do something god-awful.

  9. Vinod dabas says

    My son is badly injured by TBI on 1 July 2018 .he was on ventilator since 10 days but now he can open his eyes and move his right hand and leg but little movement in his left side .he can’t reconginze anything,no response to sound as well plz tell me how much time it take to recover

  10. Candace pierce says

    Hi I’m Candace my father went into a coma on June 17 2018 without any warning at midnite.Hes still in a coma he came off the vent and has a treche now and a feeding tube put in it’s been about 2 weeks with tube and treche. His eyes now open and blink but he has a blank stare .no other changes how long would it be of signs of he’s coming back? So stressed out and depressed

  11. My mom was crossing the street and was hit by a scooter and brought to ICU. She was conscience but unable to recognize people. Two days after the incident, the blood in her brain wasn’t absorbed and became more and pressured her brain stem, an emergency operation was done and the hematoma wa removed and two vessels in the brain was fixed. This was in feb 2018. Now she’s awake at times but not fully recovered. She can:
    Open her eyes
    Move her finger(though not by command)
    Use eye to follow briefly
    Legs can move a bit.

    Will she further improve?
    How to stimulate her?

    What can I do now?

  12. lynn chebet says

    my daughter went through craniotomy as a result of bleeding into the subdural hematoma when she was a month old, she is now a year old but has hardly recovered….what do I do? please help

  13. MaryAnn Rodriguez says

    My dad went into cardiac arrest was Dad and they paddled and back twice they put them in a self-induced coma he woke up they took the respirator out we don’t know the extent of his brain injury and he keeps kicking his legs we don’t know if he’s going to get better or not going to heal from this or is he permanently brain damaged

  14. Priyanka says

    My mom is in coma due to bike accident, she can see but no response, her right brain gor operated and in left brain she had stroke just after the operation. Her right side got paralysed.
    Now she is having swelling. Please suggest how much time it will take for her to recover . Its been 4 month after injury.

  15. Esther wairimu says

    My husband got an accident and he got a tibial fracture and cerebral oedema…how long will he take to recover and will it be possible to recover fully?

  16. Dennis Ruffin says

    On August 19th 2017 me and my family was hiking in the woods a wind gust blew a large branch down on my head the branch was about twelve inches in diameter and about six feet long from about ten feet above me After it hit me my fiance had to give me CPR to revive me my eyes where open but had no movement what so ever and my skin had turned a gray color and my lips had turned blue so I would say I was definitely dead anyhow I had to have three surgeries and about seven months of physical and speech therapy but I am healed to the point that I feel completely back to my old self and I have returned to my usual work as a concrete mason that is an extremely physical job and although I have a lot of getting back into shape from the seven months of therapy I am back to my old self I know that not everyone can heal that well but for all of you reading this that is either in recovery or has a loved one in recovery there is hope don’t give up and have faith, dedication, and lots of work ethic it will take to get through all the therapy I hope this has inspired and uplifted your spirits I pray for you all I know all to well the discouragement and uncertainty that brain trauma can have on a person and their family but you can get through it with the right medical care, support, and strong will good luck and God bless

  17. My husband still in coma he is 25year old by severe brain injury how much time he get recover plz ans me for my question

  18. I know a person who has high blood pressure and fell and is currently in coma the doctor says her heart is beating slower and her blood pressure is getting higher will she get better?

  19. Julia Braddock says

    The damage in your brain can’t heal but your brain can learn new ways to work like it did

  20. Julia Braddock says

    Katrina my daughter is in a coma from a head injury she has swelling on her brain and bleeding the doctor’s can put a shunt in his head it will take the fluids off his head now my daughter is breathing on her own but doctors still think she won’t come out of coma and will be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life but I have faith she will fight her way back to me I hope your husband gets better

  21. Judith Adesanya says

    I had a trauma over 20 years ago. I have been having severe Pain in the middle part of my head. Please what can I do

  22. My husband is currently in a coma from Tramtic Brain injury and it’s only been 30 hours and his mother is already making funeral arrangements!!!! Is it me or is she nuts?

  23. Katrina white says

    My boyfriend Jeffrey Williams is in Ccu at Bellevue hospital and has been there for two weeks with a severe brain injury his brain is swollen and how can they shrink brain swollen inflammation I look up a female hormone progesterone that help women heal from brain swelled and how would I begin to explain to doctors about this research trail they can try

  24. I was in a motorbike crash now I can’t move my left led or arm without help from my right side or someone else helping.will I ever recover? The accident was August last year .is there anything I can do to help?help plz

  25. 3 months ago I was underneath a lot of stress
    And i felt something snap in my brain
    After Wood I felt slow I can barley drive good
    What has happen to me I can remember everything but I feel slow around people
    Please help me

  26. Do you think my brain will heal i had a steel cage weight like 14lb fall on my head my headache never gone away since accident im in therapy butt im worry going on 5 month

  27. Marlene-Nancy Gard says

    MRI shows unusual volume loss of frontal lobe and some of parietal lobes.
    Am 75 MI – six stents- only warning pain in left scapular.
    Three months ago “stroke like” incident – slurred speech.
    Left side balance compromised. numbness, tingling all left side.
    Head pain -left side forehead painful to touch and prominent.

    Am retired SRN – qualified at age 40 after being legal secretary, mother of two.

    Was Involved head-on collision at age 8 – did not attend hospital – was unconscious approx one hour.

    Question – N0 medical attention at 8. Can other parts of the brain take over function of the frontal and parietal lobe.

    Have always on,y slept 4/5 hours. Lateral thinker. A cellist at 11. Artist.
    Spontaneous. Never depressed. Ca be very sad but i

  28. Yeah i don’t know exactly what happened but about 9 months ago i had an ” event ” which left me really dizzy with blurry vision. It seems like about half my problem is my inner ear and vestibular system, and the other half is with my brain. I have pretty bad cognitive dysfunction and frankly have lost the ability to think clearly. The medical term is brain fog but thats kind of vague. IF any one has any info on this or if i’ll ever get to feeling any better that would be great! My brother in law has had a pretty serious concussion and we can really relate to each other on a lot of stuff. ITs just crazy how i just woke up one day feeling like this and i don’t understand how people can have serious traumatic brain injuries and like heal or get better where as me i just don’t feel any better at all since I’ve had this start.

  29. Richard Johnson says

    Yes, yes, and yes. I’m 11+ years, and the healing/recovery process is still going well.

  30. I’m 19 years old and I got into Car accident along with my twin and two other people I flew out the car and hit my head first. No one else got hurt but me, I was in a coma for a week. I was in on life support. I don’t know why I’m typing this… but goodbye,

  31. Can a brain injury heal if the patient was in a coma for a week? Please help give me an answer. *Thanks, Stacey*

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