Neurological Rehabilitation

In this Article

What is Neurological Rehabilitation?

Neurological rehabilitation (rehab) is treatment to help a person recover from a disease or injury that affects the nervous system. You may need rehab include if you’ve had a stroke, traumatic brain injury, degenerative nerve disease, cancer, or an infection. Depending on the damage to the nerves and your treatment plan, the rehab team may include a neurologist, orthopedist, psychologist, physical therapist, speech therapist, or occupational therapist.

Nerves are your body’s electrical system. They are found everywhere in your body and power in everything your body does. Damage to your nerves can cause pain and affect the ability to function—from walking to swallowing to learning and speaking. Common diseases and injuries that cause nerve damage include:

What are the Risks and/or Side Effects?

Neurological rehab provides education, guidance, and support during recovery from nerve damage. It may also help you cope with not having the same abilities you had before. All treatments come with some risks, though the risks for rehab are small. There is a risk that rehab may cause another problem or injury. For example, you may fall while learning how to walk again. But your therapists are trained to manage this risk and make sure you are ready for each step in the process.

What are the Benefits?

Neurological rehab has many benefits. It can help you regain your independence and do the following:

  • Get back to your daily activities and learn new ways of doing things
  • Manage symptoms like pain and tremors (shaking)
  • Use assistive devices like crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs

How Do I Prepare?

Your doctor will work with you to make sure you are ready for rehab before you start. You will likely start with small goals like sitting up or standing, to get your body ready for it.

The best thing you can do to prepare is to do your part to take care of yourself as you recover. Follow your doctor’s advice about what to eat and what exercise to do. Tell your doctor if you don’t think you can follow the doctor’s advice for any reason.

Make sure you have someone who can help and support you during your rehabilitation. If you are going to outpatient rehab (out of the hospital), you will need a way to get to therapy. It’s also helpful to have someone at home who can help you with daily activities and your home exercises.

How is it Done or Administered?

Your rehab plan will depend on your injury or condition. For example, if you have trouble speaking or swallowing, a speech therapist can help you learn how to do these things again. An occupational therapist might help you learn how to cook meals for yourself or shower safely. And a physical therapist might help you stand and walk again. Some common things you might learn in neurological rehabilitation include:

  • Exercises to strengthen your body, improve balance, and move safely, with or without assistive equipment
  • New ways to be physically active with a disability
  • Counseling and therapy to help with social and emotional challenges
  • Speech-language therapy to help with talking, swallowing, language, and communication
  • Instruction on how to safely use crutches, walkers, or a wheelchair

When Will I Know the Results?

Neurological rehab takes time. The time it takes to achieve your goals will depend on many things, including your condition and your willingness to do the work.

What are Follow-up Requirements and Options?

Each person’s follow-up plan is different. Your doctor or therapist may recommend that you come back now and then after you finish your rehab to make sure that you continue to get better. Work with your care team to create a follow-up plan that meets your needs.

What Should I Expect During Recovery?

Rehab can be hard work, both physically and mentally. It’s hard to learn how to use your body in new ways or re-learn skills that used to be easy. You may get tired and frustrated. One day you may feel hopeful and the next day you may feel sad and discouraged. Your therapists understand this process and are there to support you mentally and physically during rehab.

Support and Resources