Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as injury to the brain which occurred as a result of trauma and is non-progressive. It occurs when an external force impacts the brain and often is caused by a blow, bump, jolt or penetrating wound to the head.

The majority of moderate-to-severe TBIs result from motor vehicle accidents. Other causes of TBI include falls, bicycle accidents, assaults and sports injuries with the latter resulting in a higher proportion of mild TBIs.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has reported a TBI rate of 107 per 100 000 population in Australia. Most studies suggest that approximately 20% of patients with TBI admitted to hospital have sustained moderate or severe head injuries, and the other 80% have mild injuries.

TBI is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. Signs and symptoms depend upon which part of the brain has been damaged. Patients with a TBI may have a range of physical, sensory and cognitive symptoms.

Problems following TBI vary. Consequently, different interventions and combinations of interventions are required to meet the needs of patients with different problems.

The TBI can cause neurological impairments such as motor function and sensory loss in addition to cognitive and emotional deficits. Consequently, some people following TBI experience difficulties with coordination, balance, walking, hand and arm function and returning to everyday activities.

Neurological physiotherapy works to identify which neurological impairments are present and how they can be addressed to help to achieve optimum recovery.