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Brain Inj. 2008 May;22(5):365-73. doi: 10.1080/02699050801998250.

Physiotherapy after traumatic brain injury: a systematic review of the literature.

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  • 1Rehaklinik Bellikon, Bellikon, Switzerland.



At present there are no standardized recommendations concerning physiotherapy of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in a high variability of methods and intensity. The aim of this literature review is to develop recommendations concerning physiotherapy in the post-acute phase after TBI on the basis of scientific evidence.


literature review: data bases: PubMed, PEDro, OT-Seeker, Cochrane and Cinahl.


Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were grouped into sub-groups: sensory stimulation, therapy intensity, casting/splinting, exercise or aerobic training and functional skill training. While for sensory stimulation evidence could not be proven, a strong evidence exists that more intensive rehabilitation programmes lead to earlier functional abilities. The recommendation due to casting for the improvement of passive range of motion is a grade B, while only a C recommendation is appropriate concerning tonus reduction. Strong evidence exists that intensive task-orientated rehabilitation programmes lead to earlier and better functional abilities.


Although some recommendations for the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions could be expressed, there are many questions concerning the treatment of humans with TBI which have not been investigated so far. Especially on the level of activity and participation only a few studies exist.

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