Glossary

Refer to this page for definitions to terms often used regarding brain injury rehabilitation.

ADLs: An acronym for “activities of daily living,” functional activities individuals do throughout the day including bathing, dressing, toileting and eating.

Aphasia: Loss of the ability to express oneself and/or to understand language, caused by damage to the brain cells rather than deficits in speech or hearing organs.

Agitation: Restlessness and increased activity. Agitation is often an expression of confusion rather than of anger or fear directed toward others. It can occur at any time during recovery, but occurs most frequently and dramatically when the person passes through Rancho Level IV.

Anoxia: An absence of oxygen supply to an organ's tissues leading to cell death. 

Apraxia: Inability to carry out a skilled movement on request. This inability does not result from paralysis.

Ataxia: A failure of muscle control in the arms and legs, resulting in lack of balance and coordination or a disturbance of gait.

Awareness: In the context of TBI rehabilitation, awareness usually refers to the individual’s recognition of his or her own thinking or behavioral problems. It can also refer to the person’s understanding of how his or her limbs are positioned or the ability to monitor his or her own social behavior.

Behavior: The manner in which a person acts or performs.

Bowel and Bladder Training: After a TBI, a person may experience difficulty in regulating their bowels and bladder. Retraining is started to help the person assume control over these functions. Diet, medications, fluid restrictions, intermittent catheterization and a toileting schedule are often used to help them regain control of these functions.

Carry Over:The ability to use newly learned skills or information and apply them to new situations. Carry over refers to the ability to use strategies and techniques taught in therapies in everyday life situations.

Coma: A state of unconsciousness from which the person cannot be aroused.

Compensation Strategies: Also referred to as compensatory techniques, compensation strategies are ways to do certain tasks and activities that will help compensate for deficits. For example, a memory log is a compensation technique for decreased short-term memory. A task list to get ready in the morning is a strategy for impaired executive functions.

Concrete Thinking: Thinking about the “here and now” with decreased ability to consider other, more abstract factors. The individual understands clearly-stated information, but does not infer unspoken or unwritten intents. For example, the person may not infer that it is winter by the sentence, “I drove through a snowstorm on my way home for the holidays.” The person may take figures of speech and proverbs literally.

Confabulation: Fabrication of ideas which is partially or completely based on false information or misinterpretations of information. A person with memory problems may confabulate about a situation which actually occurred by exaggerating and distorting the facts. Individuals often try to “fill the gaps: in his or her memory and are not aware that the information is incorrect.

Disorientation: A state of mental confusion characterized by incorrect ideas of place, time, identity and situation.

Dysarthria: Weakness of the mouth or tongue may make speech sound slurred or mumbled. Dysarthria is sometimes accompanied by drooling and/or difficulty in chewing or swallowing.

Dysphagia: A person may have difficulty swallowing that may be associated to pain. In some cases, swallowing may be impossible.

FEES: An acronym for Fiberoptic-endoscopic-evaluation-of swallow, a tool used to diagnose swallowing and assess useful strategies. It consists of passing a scope through the nose to view the throat while swallowing.

Function: To perform an activity properly and normally.

Hemiplegia: Total or partial paralysis of one side of the body that results from disease or injury to the motor centers of the brain.

Impaired Judgment: A tendency to over-estimate one’s current abilities and to see self in terms of pre-injury capabilities. Impaired judgment is often associated with poor safety awareness, impulsiveness and a discrepancy between what the person says they can do and his or her actual ability. The person may become upset with family or staff, blaming them for preventing him or her from attempting unsafe activities.

Insight: The extent to which an individual accurately judges his or her strengths and weaknesses.

Memory Log: A memory device in notebook form used to assist a person who has memory difficulties. It includes a calendar, information about the person and a daily entry section for recording therapy and other important information.

Orientation: The awareness of an individual’s physical environment with regard to time, place, personal identity and situation.

Perseveration: Repeating words or activities over and over involuntarily or becoming “stuck” on a certain idea or topic.

Post-Traumatic Amnesia: A period after the injury when the person exhibits loss of day-to-day memory. The person is unable to store new information and has a decreased ability to learn.

Problem Solving: Ability of the individual to evaluate all factors, generate possible hypotheses and come to appropriate and effective solutions to situations.

Range of Motions (ROM): The amount of movement through which a joint can be straightened or bent.

Redirection: Changing an activity or conversation to another subject to reduce confusion, agitation and frustration.

Rehabilitation: The process of restoring an individual or a body part to the highest possible level of function after a disabling disease or injury.

Spasticity: An involuntary increase in muscle tone (tension) that occurs following injury to the brain or spinal cord, causing the muscles to resist being moved.

Structuring the Environment: Organizing a person’s day-to-day activities in order to provide a consistent and predictable environment for a person who is confused.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.

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