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Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2007 Jan;36(1):31-42.

A brief review of traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.



This article aims to provide an overview of the epidemiology, medical and rehabilitation issues, current evidence for traumatic brain injury (TBI) rehabilitation, recent advances and emerging practices. Special TBI population groups will also be addressed.


We included publications indexed in Medline and the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews from 1974 to 2006, relevant chapters in major rehabilitation texts and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America and accessed Internet publications.


TBI has been implicated by the World Health Organisation to be a 21st century epidemic similar to malaria and HIV/AIDS, not restricted to the developed world. One third of patients may suffer severe TBI with long-term cognitive and behavioural disabilities. Injuries to the brain do not only damage the cerebrum but may give rise to a multisystem disorder due to associated injuries in 20% of cases, which can include complex neurological impairments, neuroendocrine and neuromedical complications. There is promising evidence of improved outcome and functional benefits with early induction into a transdisciplinary brain injury rehabilitation programme. However, TBI research is fraught with difficulties because of an intrinsically heterogeneous population due to age, injury severity and type, functional outcome measures and small samples. Recent advances in TBI rehabilitation include task-specific training of cognitive deficits, computer-aided cognitive remediation and visual-spatial and visual scanning techniques and body weight-supported treadmill training for motor deficits. In addition, special rehabilitation issues for mild TBI, TBI-related vegetative states, elderly and young TBI, ethical issues and local data will also be discussed.

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