Possible Symptoms Following Therapeutic Hypothermia

A variety of symptoms can occur following therapeutic hypothermia.

COMMUNICATION

Some people have difficulty communicating after a brain injury. The problem may be caused by the muscles used for speech (muscles in the lips, tongue and palate) or by aphasia, a condition that may cause a person to have difficulty understanding spoken or written language, difficulty reading or writing, or difficulty forming meaningful words or sentences.

SWALLOWING

Some people are unable to chew or swallow regular foods or drink liquids after a brain injury. This may require a change in diet (for example, switching to puréed foods or thickened fluids). When people are not able to eat enough to meet their nutritional needs, a liquid diet is given through a tube in the nose or stomach, until they can meet their needs orally. These difficulties are usually temporary (in the early stages of recovery) but can continue for a longer period in cases of more severe brain injury.

BLADDER AND BOWEL CONTROL

Following a brain injury, some people may have an overactive or underactive bladder or bowel. The urge to go to the bathroom may not be felt or recognized and responded to as usual.

PAIN

Pain and headaches are common after a brain injury. They may go away as the patient improves or they may be chronic and require ongoing pain management.

SLEEP

Sleep patterns can be different after a brain injury. Sometimes people have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting the right level of sleep.

FATIGUE

Fatigue is common. Recovering from a serious injury takes a great deal of energy; it is hard work and can be draining physically and mentally. When a person tries to focus their attention, remembering or thinking becomes difficult and doing simple things takes more effort.

Only short periods of activity may be possible, and reminders to rest may be necessary. Fatigue often lessens as a person’s condition improves but, for some, it will be an ongoing problem, in which case activities and appointments will have to be scheduled accordingly.

SEIZURES

Seizures can occur after a brain injury. They can cause a part of the body or the whole body to shake, or they can cause the person to appear to black out (be unresponsive for a few seconds).

Be sure to let the health care team know how your loved one is feeling and if there are any changes.