This is only a partial list of the hundreds of terms and specialties associated with brain injury, spinal cord injury, and limb amputation. Click a letter to move to that section of the glossary. If you don’t find a word you are looking for, please let us know here!

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Acalcula: Inability to perform simple math problems.

Acuity: Sharpness or accuracy of thought, vision, or hearing.

Active Range of Motion (AROM): The amount of joint movement a person can make using their only muscle strength (without assistance).  Also see “Passive Range of Motion“.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s):  Also called DLS, or daily living skills. These are routine activities carried out for personal hygiene and health such as eating, dressing, grooming, shaving, etc. Nurses, occupational and physical therapists are the main coaches for these.

Acute: 1. Sharp, severe. 2. Having rapid onset, severe symptoms and a short course. 3. The early stages of an injury (as opposed to chronic, which is long term).

Adaptive/assistive equipment: A special device which assists in the performance of self care, work, play or leisure activities.

Advocacy: Support, assistance, or help with a specific cause. For example, disability rights advocacy would be people fighting for the rights of those with disabilities.

Affect (n.): Outward signs of a person’s emotions. For example, the phrase “flat affect” might be used to describe someone showing no emotion.

Agitation: May present in different ways, such as restless activity, pacing, crying or laughing without apparent reason, pulling at clothes or people, and not being able to stay still.

Agnosia: When the brain does not process the senses, which may prevent a person from being able to recognize objects, people, or sounds.

Agraphia: The inability to communicate in writing.

Alexia: The inability to see words or read.

Alertness: Being awake and able to respond to stimulation.

Ambivalence: Contradictory feelings about an object, person or action, emotion, idea, situation, etc.

Ambulate/ambulation: To walk.

Amnesia: Lack of memory about events occurring during a particular period of time.

Pictured: Brain aneurysm

Aneurysm: Abnormal balloon-like deformity in the wall of a blood vessel, usually an artery,that weakens the wall of the vessel. If the size increases, the wall weakens as the balloon grows larger, and may eventually burst, causing a hemorrhage.

Anomia: Inability to recall names of objects. Persons with this problem often can speak fluently but have to use other words to describe familiar objects.

Anosmia: Loss of the sense of smell.

Anoxia: Lack of oxygen to the brain. Cells of the brain need oxygen to stay alive. When blood flow to the brain is reduced or when oxygen in the blood is too low, brain cells are damaged.

Anterior: Front

Anterograde Amnesia: Loss of ability to create new memories (can be partial or complete loss), while still able to remember events prior to the event that caused the amnesia.

Anterolateral: Situated or occurring in the front and side.

Anteroposterior: Occurring or related to both front and back.

Antibody: An immune response the body creates to attack bacteria or viruses. It is carried in the blood as a type of protein.

Anticonvulsant: Medication used to decrease the possibility of a sesizure (e.g., Dilantin, Phenobar, Mysoline, Tegretol).

Antidepressants: Medication used to treat depression.

Anxiety: Feelings of fear, panic, apprehension, uneasiness, agitation, uncertainty. Anxiety can cause irritability, confusion, and bodily reactions such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, fatigue, sweating, sleep issues, and muscle tension.

Apathy: Indifference or lack of emotion, concern, or interest.

Aphasia: Partial or total loss of the ability to use words and/or to understand language, caused by damage to brain cells.

Apraxia: A motor disorder that limits a person’s control of certain movements, even though their muscles are fine. This can limit different movements, such as those that involve facial muscles, where they can’t do something like lick their lips, wink, or speak, or it can keep a person from moving their arms or legs.

Aprosodia: When a person cannot perform or understand parts of language such as rhythm, pitch, or intonation.

Arachnoid Membrane: The middle three membranes (layers of tissue) that protect the brain and spinal cord.

Arousal: Being awake.

Arterial line: A thin tube inserted in an artery that measures blood pressure, oxygen, and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Articulation: Movement of the lips, tongue, teeth, and palate into specific patterns for speech (Also, a movable joint).

Aspiration: When fluid or food enters the lungs through the wind pipe. This can cause a lung infection or pneumonia.

Ataxia: Loss of full control of bodily movements caused by damage to the cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls muscle coordinations). This can limit a person’s ability to walk, talk, eat, and to perform other self-care tasks.

Atrophy: A wasting away or loss of strength in muscles, tissues, organs, or part of the body caused by lack of nourishment, underuse, neglect, or loss of nerve supply.

Attention/Concentration: The ability to focus on a given task or set of stimuli for an appropriate period of time.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Use of forms of communication other than speaking, such as: sign language, “yes/no” signals, gestures, picture board, and computerized speech systems to compensate (either temporarily or permanently) for severe expressive communication disorders.

Automatism: A person is in a trance-like state but appears normal, and performs actions without thinking or knowing what they are doing. Can last for minutes or days, often associated with severe emotional distress or a type of epilepsy.

Axon: The nerve fibers that carry instructions and sensory feelings in the body.

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Balkan Frame: A Rectangular frame placed over a bed to help with position and movement. Loops or bars can be hung from the frame to help with therapy activities or getting in and out of bed.

Bed Mobility: A person’s level of movement in bed, such as rolling over, scooting, sitting up, and lying down.

Behavioral inflexibility: When a person behaves or completes tasks the same way and cannot change or adjust these patterns.

Bilateral: Meaning both the right and left sides of the body.

Bio-feedback: Technology that uses sensors and visual cues or sounds to give information about bodily functions, to help a person to learn control over them. This can be used for relaxing muscles, reducing pain, lowering heart rate or blood pressure, and relieving stress.

Brain Injury, Acquired: A brain injury/brain damage that occurred after birth.

Brain Injury, Closed: When a blow or jolt to the head or sudden motion causes the brain to crash into the skull and causes damage to the brain

Brain Injury, Mild: When a brain injury causes the Glasgow Coma Scale to fall between 13-15, and at least one of the following happens: 1) any period of loss of consciousness, 2) any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident, 3) any change in mental state at the time of the accident (e.g., feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused), 4) brain, nerve, or spinal disfunctions which may or may not fade.

Brain injury is only mild where the severity of the injury does not exceed the following: a) loss of consciousness of approximately 30 minutes or less; b) after 30 minutes, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale score of 13-15; c) Post Traumatic Amnesia not greater than 24 hours.

Brain Injury, Traumatic: Damage to living brain tissue caused by an external force. It is usually characterized by a loss of consciousness (amnesia or coma) that can be very brief (minutes) or very long (months/indefinitely). The specific disabling condition(s) may be orthopedic, visual, auditory, neurologic, perceptive/cognitive, or mental/emotional in nature. The term does not include brain injuries that are caused by insufficient blood supply, lack of oxygen to the brain, toxic substances, growth/tumors, disease-producing organisms, , birth trauma or defects, or degenerative processes.

Pictured: Brain Stem

Brain Stem: The lower part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord. Controls functions that are necessary for survival (breathing, heart rate) and for arousal (being awake and alert).

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Catheter: A flexible tube for removing or introducing fluids to/from the body. A catheter is frequently used to remove urine (Foley catheter).

Central Nervous System: The brain and spinal cord.

Cerebellum: Located in the back of the head; the part of the brain that helps with coordination, accuracy, and timing of movement.

Pictured: Cerebellum
Pictured: Cervical Spine

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF): A colorless liquid that protects the brain and spinal cord from physical impact or shock. Fluid increases and decreases as space in the skull changes. For diagnosis purposes, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is used to draw CSF.

Cervical: The upper part of the spine, located in the neck. This part of the spine sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body.

Circumlocution: The use of many words to describe something that could be described with less words. May be used when the specific term is forgotten.

Clonus: Muscle spasm involving repeated, often rhythmic, contractions.

Closed head injury: A trauma to the brain in which the brain is not penetrated by any object.

Cognitive Impairment: Difficulty with basic brain functions- perception, memory, attention or reasoning.

Cognitive Process: Higher mental functioning such as learning, memory, imagination, comprehension, and decision making. Or, the way an individual becomes aware of people, objects, and situations in the environment and their meaning.

Coma: State of unconsciousness from which the patient cannot be awakened or aroused, even by powerful stimulation; lack of any response to one’s environment; defined clinically as the inability to follow a one-step command consistently (Glasgow Coma Scale of 8 or less).

Combativeness: The act of being especially argumentative, fighting off help or medical care, or starting fights.

Communicative Disorder: A impairment in the ability to 1) receive and/or process a symbol system, 2) represent concepts or symbol systems, and/or 3) transmit and use symbol systems. The impairment may be observed in disorders of hearing, language, and/or speech processes.

Cognitive Dissonance: Inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, attitudes or behavior.

Comprehension: Ability to understand spoken, written, or general communication.

Concentration: Maintaining attention on a task over a period of time; remaining attentive and not easily diverted.

Concrete Thinking: Literal thinking that is focused on the physical world, such as facts about the here and now, physical objects, and literal definitions.

Concussion: Temporary unconsciousness, confusion, altered mental state, or other effects resulting from a blow to the head or sudden jolt of the head.

Confabulation: Talk about people, places, and events with no basis in reality. May seem to be “made up stories”, but this is often an effort to make sense of the environment.

Confusion: A state in which a person is bewildered, perplexed, or unable to self-orient.

Conjugate Movement: Both eyes move simultaneously in the same direction. Convergence of the eyes toward the midline (crossed eyes) is a disconjugate movement.

Continence: The ability to control urination and bowel movements.

Contracture: Loss of range of motion in a joint due to abnormal shortening of soft tissues.

Coup/Contrecoup: Coup is bruising or tissue damage at the point of impact, while Contrecoup is damage to brain tissue on the opposite side from the impact.

Contusion: Bruised or injured tissue or skin.

Cortical Blindness: Full or partial loss of vision resulting from damage to the brain’s occipital cortex.

CT Scan/Computerized Axial Tomograpy: A series of  X-rays taken at different levels of the brain to show the skull and intracranial structures. A scan is often taken soon after the injury to help decide if surgery is needed. The scan may be repeated later to see how the brain is recovering.

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Decerebrate Posture (Decerebrate Rigidity): An abnormal body posture, usually from severe brain damage, that involves the arms and legs being held straight out, toes pointed down, and the head and neck arched backward. Muscles are tight and rigid.

Decreased Insight: Patient may not recognize problems he is having or may attempt to rationalize or minimize problems.

Decubitus: Pressure area, bed sore, skin opening, or skin breakdown caused by pressure. The area may be discolored or an open wound.

Demyelination: The loss of nerve fiber “insulation” from trauma or disease, resulting in issues with nerve impulses and neurological problems.

Depression: The person may be understandably sad or depressed because of his/her injury. Depression is difficult to clearly diagnose, but several treatment approaches are available.

Diffuse Brain Injury: Injury to a widespread area of the brain.

Diplopia: Seeing two images of a single object; double vision. See also vision after head injury.

Disinhibition (Lack of inhibition): Inability to control impulsive behavior and emotions.

Disorientation: Not knowing where you are, who you are, or current date. Health professionals often speak of a normal person as being oriented “times three” which refers to person, place, and time.

DLS: Daily Living Skills: Also called Activities of daily living.These are routine activities carried out for personal hygiene and health such as eating, dressing, grooming, shaving, etc.

Dorsiflexion: Bending the ankle to bring the foot back (opposite of pointing the foot and toes).

Dura Mater: The tough outer membrane that covers and protects the brain and spinal cord.

Dysarthria: Difficulty in forming words or speaking them because of weakness of muscles used in speaking. Speech may be slurred and very slow. Voice quality may be abnormal, usually more nasal; volume may be weak; drooling may occur. Dysarthria may accompany aphasia or occur alone.

Dysphagia: Difficulty in swallowing. It also includes difficulty in moving material from the mouth to the stomach. This also includes problems in positioning food in the mouth.

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Edema: Collection of fluid in the tissue causing swelling.

EEG (Electroencephalogram): A procedure that uses electrodes on the scalp to record electrical activity of the brain. Used for detection of epilepsy, coma, and brain death.

EMG (Electromyography): A test that measures muscle and nerve activity by recording the response to electrical stimulation.

Emotional Lability: Rapid, drastic changes in emotional states. For example, inappropriate laughter, crying, or getting angry for no apparent reason.

Endotracheal Tube: A tube that serves as an artificial airway and is inserted through the patient’s mouth or nose. It passes through the throat and into the air passages to help breathing. To do this it must also pass through the patient’s vocal cords. The patient will be unable to speak as long as the endotracheal tube is in place. It is this tube that connects the respirator to the patient.

Euphoria: Exaggerated sense of well-being that may not be based on reality.

Exacerbate: To make worse.

Executive Functions: The abilities needed to formulate, plan, and carry out actions and self-regulate.

Extended Care Facility-Basic: Residential facility that offers 24-hour nursing, supervision, and assistance with activities of daily life.

Extended Care Skilled Facility: Offers 24-hour nursing, supervision, and assistance with ADLs as well as various types of therapy and rehabilitation.

Extremity: Describes the outermost, or farthest points. May mean arms and legs, or especially hands and feet.


FIM (Functional Independence Measure) Score: A score that describes a person’s degree of disability. The scores are often used to track changes during rehabilitation.

Flaccid: Lacking normal muscle tone; limp.

Flexion: Bending a joint

Foley Catheter:  A tube inserted into the bladder for urine to drain tube and collect in a plastic bag.

frontal lobe
Pictured: Frontal Lobe

Frontal lobe: Front part of the brain, which is involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality, and other “higher cognitive functions”.

Frustration Tolerance: The ability to persist in completing a task despite apparent difficulty. Individuals with a poor frustration tolerance will often refuse to complete tasks which are the least bit difficult. Angry behavior, such as yelling or throwing things while attempting a task, is also indicative of poor frustration tolerance.

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Gainful Occupation: Any type of employment for which compensation is received, including work for which payment is “in kind” rather than in cash.

Gait Training: Gait is another word for walking, so gait training offers instruction on walking (can be with or without assistance or equipment).

Generalization: Being able to carry learning from one setting into another (learning to transfer from the wheelchair to the bed in the hospital; then being able to do the same at home).

GI Tube: A tube inserted through a surgical opening into the stomach. It is used to introduce liquids, food, or medication into the stomach when the patient is unable to take these substances by mouth.

Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS): A system used to assess the degree of brain impairment and to identify the seriousness of injury in relation to outcome. The system involves three determinants: eye opening, verbal responses and motor response. These three determinants are evaluated independently according to a numerical value. The resultant value indicates the level of consciousness and degree of dysfunction. Scores run from a high of 15 to a low of 3. Persons are considered to have experienced a ’mild brain’ injury when their score is between 13 and 15. A score of 9 to 12 is considered to reflect a ‘moderate’ brain injury and a score of 8 or less reflects a ‘severe’ brain injury.

Grief Process: Emotional responses to grief which progress from alarm to disbelief and denial, to anger and guilt, to finding a source of comfort, and finally to adjustment.

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Head Injury: Refers to an injury of the head and/or brain, including lacerations and contusions, to the head/forehead.

Hematoma: Collection of blood clotting in tissues following the rupture of blood vessel.

Types include:

Epidural Hematoma—outside the brain and its fibrous covering but under the skull.

Subdural Hematoma—between the brain and its fibrous covering (dura).

Intracerebral Hematoma—in the brain tissue.

Subarachnoid Hematoma—around the surface of the brain, between the dura and arachnoid membranes.

Hemianopsia/Hemianopia: Loss of vision for one half of the field of vision, not from actual blindness but from processing problems in the brain. The issue is not for the entire right or left eye, but for the right or left half of vision in each eye.

Hemiparesis: Weakness, paralysis or loss of movement on one side of the body.

Hemiplegia: Paralysis to one side of the body, due to injury of the neurons that carry signals to the muscles from the motor areas of the brain.

Hemorrage: A ruptured blood vessel that causes heavy bleeding.

Heterotopic Ossification (HO): Extra knot-like bone that sometimes forms in the soft tissue after an injury. It can decrease range of motion and flexibility or it can cause pain.

Hoyer Lift: A type of equipment used to transfer a person from a bed to a wheelchair or commode.

Pictured: Hoyer Lift

Hydrocephalus: Too much fluid in the brain, which increases pressure in the skull.

Hypoxia: A decrease in oxygen reaching the tissues of the body.


Impulsivity: Acting without thought or acting too quickly, which can lead to errors, difficulties, or accidents.

Incontinence: Inability to control bowel and bladder functions. Many people who are incontinent can improve control with training.

Informed Consent: The patient’s right to know the risks and benefits of a medical procedure.

Intracranial Pressure (ICP): The pressure inside the skull, around the brain. The condition is life-threatening.

Intracranial Pressure Monitor: A monitoring device to measure the ICP pressure, using a small tube (catheter) attached to the scull and a transducer to register the pressure.

Ischemia: Inadequate blood flow to an organ or part of the body, causing an oxygen shortage which may cause tissue damage.

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Judgment: Evaluating information and making a decision that is safe and appropriate for the situation.


Kinesthesia: Sensory awareness of body parts as they move.


Emotional Lability: Notable shifts in emotional state (e.g., uncontrolled laughing or crying)

Lack of Inhibition: Due to the injury, systems in the brain that monitor behavior can be impaired. Person may no longer be restrained by society’s idea of proper behavior, may be very angry and hostile, use profanity frequently, or make inappropriate sexual remarks.

Lack of Initiation: The person may find it very difficult to initiate action, even though he may know what to do.

Lateral: Side.

Leg Bag: A small, thick plastic bag that can be tied to the leg and collects urine. It is connected by tubing to a catheter inserted into the urinary bladder.

Lesion: Another word for bruise or wound.

Locked-in-Syndrome: A condition resulting from interruption of motor pathways in the ventral pons, usually by infarction. This disconnection of the motor cells in the lower brain stem and spinal cord from controlling signals issued by the brain leaves the patient completely paralyzed and mute, but able to receive and understand sensory stimuli. Communication may be possible by code using blinking or movements of the jaw or eyes.

Pictured: Lumbar

The lower part of the spine, below the thoracic.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A type of diagnostic radiography using electromagnetic energy to create an image of soft tissue, central nervous system, and musculoskeletal systems.

Malingering: To pretend to be unable to do something to avoid work or duties.

Memory: Being able to remember information from the past and day to day. Problems remembering the recent past are common.

Memory, Episodic: Memory for ongoing events in a person’s life. Sometimes more easily impaired than semantic memory, perhaps because rehearsal or repetition tends to be minimal.

Memory, Immediate: The ability to recall numbers, pictures, or words immediately following presentation. Patients with immediate memory problems have difficulty learning new tasks because they cannot remember instructions, relies upon concentration and attention.

Memory, Long Term: In neuropsychological testing, this refers to recall thirty minutes or longer after presentation. Long term memory exceeds the limit of short term memory because it requires storage and retrieval of information.

Memory, Short Term: Primary or ‘working’ memory, its contents are in conscious awareness—A limited capacity system that holds up to seven chunks of information over periods of 30 seconds to several minutes, depending upon the person’s attention to the task.

Motor Control: The ability to contract or relax a particular muscle or group of muscles.

Muscle Tone: The amount of tension in a muscle at rest. Tight muscles are described as having high muscle tone, and floppy muscles are described as having low tone.

Myelin: The fatty white material that insulates nerves and is essential for proper nervous system function.

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Nasogastric Tube (NG tube): Tube that passes through the person’s nose and throat and ends in the person’s stomach. This tube allows for direct “tube feeding” to maintain the nutritional status of the person or removal of stomach acids.

Neglect: Paying little or no attention to a part of the body.

Neologism: Nonsense or made up words, often unrealized by the speaker.

Neurogenic Bladder: A lack of bladder control due to brain, spinal cord, or nerve damage, which may be the result of disease or injury.

Neuropsychologist: A psychologist who specializes in evaluating (by tests) brain/behavior relationships and planning training programs to help the survivor of brain injury return to normal functioning. Often works closely with schools and employers as well as with family members of the injured person.

Non-ambulatory: Unable to walk.

Nystagmus: Involuntary movement of the eyeballs.

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occipital lobe
Pictured: Occipital Lobe

Occipital Lobe: The back region of the brain, which processes visual information. Damage to this lobe can result in vision issues.

Olfactory Stimulation: When the sense of smell is stimulated (when a person smells an odor, whether pleasant or foul).

Orientation: Awareness of one’s environment and/or situation, along with the ability to use this information appropriately in a functional setting. Knowing who you are, where you are, what day it is, etc.

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Paraplegia: Loss of function below the cervical spinal cord, while the upper body is still completely or mostly functional. Degrees of lower limb paralysis may still vary depending on the severity of spinal cord damage.

Pictured: Parietal Lobe

Parietal Lobe: Part of the brain at the upper back area of the head.

Passive Range of Motion: The amount of movement in a joint when someone moves it for you.

PEG Tube: A tube placed in the stomach for feeding.

Perception: To be able to make sense of what one sees, hears, feels, tastes, or smells.

Perseveration: Repeating a word, gesture, or phrase. This may mean answering a question that isn’t being asked anymore or responding to something that is no longer happening. It may also mean to ask the same question over and over.

Physiatrist: A doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Plateau: When a person gets better or recovers for a period of time and then stays the same.

Plasticity: The way that the nervous system can rewire itself to get back to normal levels of action after an injury.

Post Concussion Syndrome: The effects that a brain injury may have on the brain and behavior, such as difficulty thinking and knowing things that a person would have known before the injury. Can also include mood changes, sensitivity, anxiety, and physical symptoms, such as headache and dizziness.

Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA): A period after a brain injury when the patient loses their short-term memory. They may remember things from before the injury but not new information. This means they cannot learn anything new.

Memory of this period is never stored; therefore things that happened during that period cannot be recalled. See also Anterograde Amnesia.

Posture: The way a person holds their body when standing or sitting.

Pre-morbid Condition: Describes a person before the disease or injury occurred.

Problem-Solving: Ability to consider the probable factors that can influence the outcome of each of various solutions to a problem and to select the most advantageous solution. Individuals with deficits in this skill may become “immobilized” when faced with a problem. By being unable to think of possible solutions, they may respond by doing nothing.

Prognosis: A doctor’s prediction about how the patient will recover from a disease or injury.

Prone: Lying on stomach.

Proprioception: The way people know what the body is doing without thinking about it. For example, if your legs are crossed or your hand is raised, you know that without looking. Damage to the brain can interrupt this sense.

Prosody: Patterns of speech such as rhythm and tone.

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Quadriparesis: Weakness in the limbs that causes partial loss of function all four limbs of the body.

Quadriplegia: Total loss of function in all four limbs of the body. Also referred to as Tetraplegia.


Rancho Los Amigos Scale: Measures the level of awareness, behavior, and cognitive function in a brain injury survivor.

Range of Motion (ROM): The amount a person is able to move any part of the body in any direction.

Reasoning: Ability to think and process information. Processing involves taking in information from the environment, remembering it, understanding it, breaking it down into parts and using these parts separately or in combination with other knowledge.

Reasoning, Abstract: Ability to think and process words with multiple meanings, or to process ideas or information about something that cannot be seen.

Reasoning, Concrete: The ability to understand the literal meaning of a phrase.

Reasoning, Sequencing: The ability to organize information or objects in the mind. Nearly every activity, including work and leisure tasks, requires sequencing. For example, when cooking certain foods ingredients must be added and mixed in a specified order; in dressing, undergarments must be put on prior to outer garments.

Regeneration: The regrowth and healing of nerves. This can help a person restore some or all function after a brain or spinal injury.

Respite Care: When someone takes care of a person temporarily, to give the usual caregiver time off or time to rest.

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Seizure: A sudden increase in electric activity in the brain, which changes how someone looks or acts for a period of time. Seizures can look very different, such as violent shaking, repeated movements, or even just zoning out or looking blank.

Selective Attention: Being able to focus on one thing even when several things are happening at the same time.

Selfishness: Injury may cause the person to be very wrapped up in him or herself and his or hers problems, often to the point that family members think the patient is unfeeling.

Sensation: A physical or emotional feeling.

Sensorimotor: Refers to all aspects of movement and sensation and the interaction of the two.

Sensory Integration: Interaction of two or more sensory processes in a manner that

enhances the adaptiveness of the brain.

Sequencing: Reading, listening, expressing thoughts, describing events or contracting muscles in an orderly and meaningful manner.

Shunt: A tube used to drain fluid from the brain or to balance pressure around the spine.

Skin Breakdown/Pressure Sore: Pressure area, bed sore, skin opening, skin breakdown. A discolored or open area of skin damage caused by consistent pressure to an area. Common areas most prone to breakdown are buttocks or backside, hips, shoulder blades, heels, ankles, and elbows.

Spasticity: Muscles have more tone and tightness, causing them to react strongly to reflexes. This may make movements appear jerky.

Spatial Ability: Ability to understand the spatial relationship between objects and oneself.

Subdural: Beneath the dura (tough membrane, shell) covering the brain and spinal cord.

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Tactile Defensiveness: Being overly sensitive to touch; withdrawing, crying, yelling, or striking when one is touched.

Pictured: Temporal Lobes

Temporal Lobes: The part of the brain on either side near the ears, which help with smell, sound, and short-term memory.

Thoracic: A way to talk about the part of the body between the neck and belly.

Tilt Table: A table that can lower or raise a person from standing to laying down or vice versa. Often used to diagnose fainting or balance issues.

Tracheostomy: An opening cut into the front of the throat to help with breathing.

Tracking, Visual: Visually following an object as it moves through space.

Tremor, Intention: Trembling or shaking of a part of the body when making a difficult or precise movement.

Tremor, Resting: A shaking of the limbs, even when a person is at rest.

Trunk Control:  The ability to move the head, shoulders, and pelvis in and out of various postures or to simply keep them aligned.

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Unilateral Neglect: Paying little or no attention to things on one side of the body. This usually occurs on the side opposite from the brain injury. In extreme cases, the patient may not bathe, dress, or acknowledge one side of the body.

Urinary Tract Infection: When bacteria have reproduced to a large number in the bladder. This can cause fever, chills, burning on urination, urgency, frequency, incontinence, or foul smelling urine.


Ventilator: Machine which helps an individual to breathe, keeps airway passages in the throat clear, and provides adequate oxygen to the body.

Verbal Apraxia: Impaired control of proper sequencing of the muscles used in speech (tongue, lips, jaw muscles, vocal cords). These muscles are not weak but their control is defective. Speech is labored and characterized by sound reversals, additions, and word approximations.

Vestibular: Describes issues in the inner ear, which helps with balance and movements of the head.

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Whiplash Injury: An injury to the neck that causes violent back and forth movement of the head and neck such as in a rear end car collision. Such injuries have been known to cause brain damage.

Withdrawal: A response to physical danger or severe stress characterized by a state of apathy, lethargy, depression, and retreat into oneself.




Information contained in this resource guide is not meant to replace, or substitute, advice from a medical professional. Always consult your physician and qualified health care professionals regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.

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Sources: Craig Hospital, Brain Injury Resource Center, Healthline, Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute