Anatomy and Function Introduction

In traumatic brain injury, the brain may be injured in a specific location or the injury may be diffused throughout many different parts of the brain. It is this indefinite nature of brain injury that makes treatment so unique for each individual survivor. In the past twenty years, a great deal has been learned about brain function. We can make more accurate assessments about the nature of the problems an individual may confront from knowing the location of the lesion (injury). Diagnostic procedures such as CT (computerized tomography) scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can provide very accurate information about the location of brain injury.

Rehabilitation therapists and specialists can also learn about the nature of an injury by observing day-to-day activities of the patient. All the activities we perform each day, whether physical or mental, are directed by different parts of the brain. It is important for professionals, and even families, to become familiar with brain function to better understand how to create the optimum learning environment for the traumatic brain injury survivor.

The brain has many parts including the cerebral cortex, brain stem and cerebellum. By studying the functions of each part of the brain we will gain an understanding of both the consequences of an injury and potential treatment strategies. It is also important to understand brain function holistically (as a whole); as an interrelationship and process of its component parts. This is particularly important with traumatic brain injury which commonly involves more widespread rather than focal brain damage.

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