Acquired brain injury


Brain injury happens when the brain tissue suffers an acute injury resulting in temporary, long-term or permanent damage. Each year, about 5,000 people in Ontario suffer a traumatic head injury while another 5,000 suffer brain injuries from non-traumatic causes like disease or health difficulties.

Causes of brain injury

The brain is a very complex organ and can be injured in many ways. Common traumatic causes include falls, motor vehicle collisions, assaults, being struck by an object, sporting accidents, drowning, seizure disorders, and poisonings. Stroke and aneurysm are the two most common causes of non-traumatic injuries. Brain injuries can have many effects and range in severity from a mild concussion to very severe.

Areas affected can include:

  • Memory and thinking skills
  • Personality
  • Speech and communication
  • Mobility (limb paralysis, decreased balance, loss of co-ordination)

How Smartlife Physiotherapists help

Physiotherapists at Smartlife are a key part of the brain injury rehabilitation team because of their skill in assessing how the brain injury has affected coordination, strength, balance, the ability to walk, and to do other mobility skills. Smartlife physiotherapists help brain injured patients restore or maximize function and learn new ways of doing everyday tasks. Each physiotherapy program is tailored to the patient’s injury and situation.

Your Smartlife physiotherapist will:

  • Assess specific physical problems such as weakness, poor balance or decreased co-ordination as it affects mobility and function
  • Set goals for recovery in collaboration with you and your family
  • Design a therapeutic exercise and movement retraining program to treat functional limitations
  • Work closely with other rehabilitation team members to coordinate and provide follow-up arrangements or assistive devices (walking aids, splints) if needed to promote continued activity

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury is most commonly caused by trauma like car accidents, falls, work/industrial incidents, and sporting activities like diving into shallow water. However, some spinal cord injuries are caused by medical conditions like tumors or cysts on the spine or viral/bacterial infections (e.g., polio). In Canada, there are about 4,300 new spinal cord injuries each year and an estimated 86,000 Canadians are living with the effects of a spinal cord injury.

Causes of spinal cord injury

A spinal cord is a bundle of nerves about 18 inches long that runs from the base of the brain down the back. It is protected by vertebrae (bones that make up the spine) and is a body’s communication superhighway. It sends messages back and forth from the brain to control movement and feel sensation. When the spinal cord is injured, messages can no longer get through, resulting in loss of feeling and paralysis below the injured part of the spinal cord. Spinal cord injury can also affect how some internal organs work.


How SmartLife physiotherapists help

Physiotherapists at SmartLife can assess how the injury has affected your ability to move then develop strategies to help optimize movement and function. SmartLife physiotherapists help by:

  • Determining if some recovery is possible in paralyzed limbs. If so, they help regain or maximize the ability to use affected limbs
  • Teaching new ways to move
  • Teaching long-term movement skills like walking with mobility aids or wheelchair skill training
  • Providing education and exercises to prevent future mobility problems

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable and often disabling neurological condition. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world-with 133 out of every 100,000 people affected. The disease is commonly first diagnosed in younger adults and woman are three times more likely to develop MS than men. Symptoms are unpredictable and vary from person to person. MS symptoms can be confusing and can include vision problems, dizziness, tremors, muscle-related symptoms, pain, fatigue, sensory symptoms and cognitive problems. People with MS could have one or many symptoms and these symptoms can improve and relapse many times over.

MS is not contagious and while not inherited, there seems to be a higher incidence of MS for those who have MS in the family. The closer the family relation (e.g., sister vs. cousin), the higher the incidence.

Causes of MS


The disease attacks the protective covering of the nerves in your brain and spinal cord. The nerve’s protective outer coating (called myelin) insulates them and allows impulses/messages to run from your brain, along your nerves, to the muscles that control movement. MS attacks the myelin coating causing inflammation and damage. The damaged areas, called lesions or plaques, interrupt, distort or prevent nerve impulses getting through, thus producing the symptoms of MS. The exact cause of MS is not known, however, current research increasingly points to a complex interplay of environmental and possibly genetic risk factors. Research also shows the tissue damage experienced by those with MS is caused by an abnormal immune response. While there is no cure, there
are treatments to help manage most MS symptoms.


How SmartLife physiotherapists help:

MS affects your ability to move as well as your balance, muscle strength and flexibility. A physiotherapist will first assess how MS is affecting you and your movement. They can then help you maximize your physical movement and functional abilities and teach you compensation strategies like how to move differently and discuss aids/equipment that could help.

Your physiotherapist can also help you find an appropriate exercise classes or a facility where you can connect with others with MS and practice these exercises.

Post Stroke Rehabilitation

A stoke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood to the brain. Nationally about 50,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year and another 300,000 are living with the effects of stroke. The physical results depend on how much damage is done and where. Your ability to speak, move, walk, balance, and perform normal daily activities can be severely affected or even lost. After a stroke about 75% of sufferers live with physical problems limiting their ability to live independently or return to normal activities.

Causes of stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to part of the brain is cut off by a blocked or burst blood vessel in the brain. Your brain then loses oxygen. If your brain cells don\’t get enough oxygen, they die. Family history of stroke or heart disease can increase your stroke risk as can lifestyle factors like diet, being overweight, smoking, and lack of exercise. In some cases there is no obvious cause.

How SmartLife physiotherapists help

As key players in stroke rehabilitation, physiotherapists assess how the stroke has affected you, your ability to move, sit, stand, and walk. Right after the stroke, your physiotherapist will:

  • Work with you to regain movement and mobility
  • Help you recover movement in the affected limbs
  • Work to retrain basic mobility like getting out-of-bed, sitting-up
  • Provide exercises and specific movement retraining

SmartLife physiotherapists will work with you (and your family) to set longer-term recovery goals to become as physically independent as possible. Treatment may include:

  • Progression to standing, walking, stair climbing
  • Limb and trunk strengthening exercises
  • Help with finding assistive devices (e.g., walkers, bath rails, lifts) to achieve safe and independent function

Throughout your recovery, your physiotherapist will continually monitor progress and adjust the rehabilitation program to your recovery goals.
Visit us or call us today to ask how SmartLife neurological rehabilitation can help you achieve your personal best!


Insurance Coverageyes
Patient agesall
OHIP Coverageno

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DateOctober 29, 2014