The primary focus when helping TBI pain patients should involve understanding the diagnoses, recognizing pain, assisting with pain relief, and providing the opportunity to improve function.
As a result of aggressive interventions and rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients are living longer. The bad news is that TBI patients are living longer with pain. Patients and families may become frustrated due to the possibility of living with intractable pain. It is well established that pain is often left underappreciated and undertreated in cognitively-impaired patients. Common neurological complications after traumatic brain injury include pain, spasticity, and late functional decline. Pain may be acute or chronic. Pain may be musculoskeletal, neuropathic (“nerve pain”), or secondary to medical complications.
A cookbook pain management approach, particularly for persons with traumatic brain injury, is inappropriate. Individualized pain management is required. Therefore the following article provides some caveats and is supplemented by patient care experiences.