Glossary terms

Abulia

Diminished motivation, lack of drive

Acalculi

The inability to perform simple problems of arithmetic. See also parietal lobe.

Acute Care

The phase of managing health problems which is conducted in a hospital on patients needing medical attention.

Affect

The observable emotional condition of an individual at any given time. See also the frontal lobe.

Agnosia

Failure to recognize familiar objects although the sensory mechanism is intact. May occur for any sensory modality.

Agraphia

Inability to express thoughts in writing. See also parietal lobe.

Alexia

Inability to read.

Ambulate

To walk.

Amnesia

Lack of memory about events occurring during a particular period of time. See also: anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, post-traumatic amnesia.

Amygdala

An almond-shape set of neurons located deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe and is part of the limbic system. It plays a key role in the processing of emotions.

Aneurysm

A balloon-like deformity in the wall of a blood vessel. 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. See also parietal lobe.

Anosmia

Loss of the sense of smell.

Anoxia

A lack of oxygen. 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.

Apathetic

Suppressed emotions, concerns, excitement, motivation

Aphasia

Inability to speak correctly.

Atonic

Loss of muscle tone

Balance

The ability to use appropriate righting and equilibrium reactions to maintain an upright position. It is usually tested in sitting and standing positions.

Basal Ganglia

A group of structures found deep within the brain. The structures generally included in the caudate, putamen, and globus pallidus in the cerebrum, the substantia nigra in the midbrain and the subthalamic nucleus in the diencephalon.

Behavior

The total collection of actions and reactions exhibited by a person. See also Working with Behavior Disorders.

Bilateral

Pertaining to both right and left sides.

Brain Injury, Acquired

The implication of this term is that the individual experienced normal growth and development from conception through birth, until sustaining an insult to the brain at some later time which resulted in impairment of brain function. (Ex: Cerebral Palsy)

Brain Injury, Closed

Occurs when the head accelerates and then rapidly decelerates or collides with another object (for example the windshield of a car) and brain tissue is damaged, not by the presence of a foreign object within the brain, but by violent smashing, stretching, and twisting, of brain tissue. Closed brain injuries typically cause diffuse tissue damage that results in disabilities which are generalized and highly variable. (Ex: Traumatic Brain Injury)

Brain Injury, Mild

A patient with a mild traumatic brain injury is a person who has had a traumatically-induced physiological disruption of brain function, as manifested by at least one of the following: 1) any period of loss of consciousness, 2) any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident, 3) any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident (e.g., feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused), 4) focal neurological deficit(s) which may or may not be transient; but 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. (Ex: Concussion)

Brain Injury, Traumatic

Damage to living brain tissue caused by an external, mechanical force. It is usually characterized by a period of altered consciousness (amnesia or coma) that can be very brief (minutes) or very long (months/indefinitely). The specific disabling condition(s) may be orthopedic, visual, aural, neurologic, perceptive/cognitive, or mental/emotional in nature. The term does not include brain injuries that are caused by insufficient blood supply, toxic substances, malignancy, disease-producing organisms, congenital disorders, birth trauma or degenerative processes.

Brain Plasticity

The ability of intact brain cells to take over functions of damaged cells; plasticity diminishes with maturation.

Brain Scan

An imaging technique in which a radioactive dye (radionuclide) is injected into the bloodstream and then pictures of the brain are taken to detect tumors, hemorrhages, blood clots, abscesses or abnormal anatomy.

Brain Stem

The lower extension of the brain where it connects to the spinal cord. Neurological functions located in the brain stem include those necessary for survival (breathing, heart rate) and for arousal (being awake and alert).

Cerebellum

The portion of the brain (located at the back) which helps coordinate movement. Damage may result in ataxia. This area is also susceptible to gluten antibodies.

Cerebral-spinal Fluid (CSF)

Liquid which fills the ventricles of the brain and surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Chiropractic

A system of integrative medicine based on the diagnosis and manipulative treatment of misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column, which are held to cause other disorders by affecting the nerves, muscles, and organs.

Chiropractor

a practitioner of the system of integrative medicine based on the diagnosis and manipulative treatment of misalignments of the joints.

Chronic

Marked by long duration or frequent recurrence.

Circumlocution

Use of other words to describe a specific word or idea which cannot be remembered.

Clonic seizure

Repetitive jerking movements

Client

A person under the protection of another; one who engages the professional advice or services of another. See Consumer and Patient.

Clonus

A sustained series of rhythmic jerks following a quick stretch of a muscle.

Cognition

The conscious process of knowing or being aware of thoughts or perceptions, including understanding and reasoning.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Therapy programs which aid persons in the management of specific problems in perception, memory, thinking and problem solving. Skills are practiced and strategies are taught to help improve function and/or compensate for remaining deficits. The interventions are based on an assessment and understanding of the person’s brain-behavior deficits and services are provided by qualified practitioners.

Coma

A 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 an inability to follow a one-step command consistently; Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or less.

Communicative Disorder

An 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.

Complex seizures:

Epileptiform activity involving a focal or generalized area of the brain associated with a sudden alteration in brain function and behavior. Types: Generalized Tonic-Clonic unconsciousness with convulsions, Absence, Myoclonic, Clonic, Tonic and Atonic.

Comprehension

Understanding of spoken, written, or gestural communication.

Concentration

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

Concrete Thinking

A style of thinking in which the individual sees each situation as unique and is unable to generalize from the similarities between situations. Language and perceptions are interpreted literally so that a proverb such as “a stitch in time saves nine” cannot be readily grasped.

Concussion

The common result of a blow to the head or sudden deceleration usually causes an altered mental state, either temporary or prolonged. Physiologic and/or anatomic disruption of connections between some nerve cells in the brain may occur. Often used by the public to refer to a brief loss of consciousness. (Ex: Brain Injury, Mild)

Confabulation

Speech that has no meaning or makes little sense in light of a given conversation or topic.

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.

Contracture

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

Convergence

Movement of two eyeballs inward to focus on an object moved closer. The nearer the object, the greater is the degree of convergence necessary to maintain single vision. See also vision after head injury.

Cortical Blindness

Loss of vision resulting from a lesion of the primary visual areas of the occipital lobe. Light reflex is preserved.

Contrecoup

Also known as coup-contrecoup. Bruising of brain tissue on the side opposite where the blow was struck.

CT Scan/Computerized Axial Tomography

A series of X-rays taken at different levels of the brain that allows the direct visualization of 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.

Decerebrate Posture (Decerebrate Rigidity)

Exaggerated posture of extension as a result of a lesion to the prepontine area of the brain stem, and is rarely seen fully developed in humans. In reporting, it is preferable to describe the posture seen.

Decorticate Posture (Decorticate Rigidity)

Exaggerated posture of upper extremity flexion and lower extremity extension as a result of a lesion to the mesencephalon or above. In reporting, it is preferable to describe the posture seen.

Decubitus

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

Declarative memory

It refers to memories that can be consciously recalled, such as facts and events. It’s counterpart is known as non-declarative or procedural memory. Refers to unconscious memories such as skills. Declarative memory can be divided into two categories: episodic memory, which stores specific personal experiences and semantic memory, which stores factual information.

Diencephalon

The diencephalon is located deep in the brain under the cerebrum and includes the thalamus and hypothalamus. It is the link between the nervous system and the endocrine system and controls many autonomic functions of the peripheral nervous system.

Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)

A shearing injury of large nerve fibers (axons covered with myelin) in many areas of the brain. It appears to be one of the two primary lesions of brain injury, the other being stretching or shearing of blood vessels from the same forces, producing hemorrhage.

Diffuse Brain Injury

Injury to cells in many areas of the brain rather than in one specific location.

Diplopia

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

Discipline

When referring to health care or education it means a particular field of study, such as medicine, occupational therapy, nursing, recreation therapy or others.

Disinhibition

Inability to suppress (inhibit) impulsive behavior and emotions.

Disorientation

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

Dorsiflexion

When applied to the ankle, the ability to bend at the ankle, moving the front of the foot upward.

Dysarthria

Difficulty in forming words or speaking them because of weakness of muscles used in speaking or because of disruption in the neuromotor stimulus patterns required for accuracy and velocity of speech.

Dysphagia

A swallowing disorder characterized by difficulty in oral preparation for the swallow, or in moving material from the mouth to the stomach. This also includes problems in positioning food in the mouth.

Edema

Collection of fluid in the tissue causing swelling.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

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

Electromyography (EMG)

An insertion of needle electrodes into muscles to study the electrical activity of muscle and nerve fibers. It may be somewhat painful to the patient. Helps diagnose damage to nerves or muscles.

Emotional Lability

Exhibiting rapid and drastic changes in emotional state (laughing, crying, anger) inappropriately without apparent reason.

Evoked Potential

Registration of the electrical responses of active brain cells as detected by electrodes placed on the surface of the head at various places. The evoked potential, unlike the waves on an EEG, is elicited by a specific stimulus applied to the visual, auditory or other sensory receptors of the body. Evoked potentials are used to diagnose a wide variety of central nervous system disorders.

Extended Care Facility-Basic

Residential facility which supplies 24-hour nursing care and supervision and assistance with activities of daily life. See Program/Service Types.

Extended Care Facility-Skilled

A residential facility for the patient who requires 24-hour nursing care (IV, intramuscular injections, special feeding tubes, skin care, oxygen) and rehabilitative therapy, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy on a less intensive basis than as an inpatient in a comprehensive rehabilitation center. An extended care facility can be a short-term alternative (a few months) prior to placement at home (with outpatient therapy) or in a nursing home. See Program/Service Types.

Extremity

Arm or leg.

Finger Agnosia

Cannot identify own or other’s fingers.

Flaccid

Lacking normal muscle tone; limp.

Flexion

Bending a joint.

Frontal Lobe

Front part of the brain; involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality and a variety of “higher cognitive functions.”

Gait Training

Instruction in walking, with or without equipment; also called “ambulation training.”

Glasgow Coma Scale

A standardized 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 all of which are evaluated independently according to a numerical value that 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 13 to 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.

Head Injury

Refers to an injury of the head and/or brain, including lacerations and contusions of the head, scalp and/or forehead. See also Brain Injury.

Hematoma

The collection of blood in tissues or a space following rupture of a blood vessel.

Epidural–Outside the brain and its fibrous covering, the dura, but under the skull.

Subdural–Between the brain and its fibrous covering (dura).

Intracerebral–In the brain tissue.

Subarachnoid–Around the surfaces of the brain, between the dura and arachnoid membranes.

Hemianopsia Hemianopia

Visual field cut. Blindness for one half of the field of vision. This is not the right or left eye, but the right or left half of vision in each eye. See also vision after head injury.

Hemiparesis

Weakness of one side of the body.

Hippocampus

A small, curved formation in the brain that has an important role in the limbic system and is involved in the formation of new memories, learning and emotions.

Hydrocephalus

Enlargement of fluid-filled cavities in the brain, not due to brain atrophy.

Hypoxia

Insufficient oxygen reaching the tissues of the body.

Impulse Control

Refers to the individual’s ability to withhold inappropriate verbal or motor responses while completing a task. Persons who act or speak without first considering the consequences are viewed as having poor impulse control.

Incontinent

Inability to control bowel and bladder functions. Many people who are incontinent can become continent with training.

Initiative

Refers to the individual’s ability to begin a series of behaviors directed toward a goal.

Interdisciplinary Approach

A method of diagnosis, evaluation, and individual program planning in which two or more specialists, such as medical doctors, psychologists, recreational therapists, social workers, etc., participate as a team, contributing their skills, competencies, insights, and perspectives to focus on identifying the developmental needs of the person with a disability and on devising ways to meet those needs.

Intracranial Pressure (ICP)

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure measured from a needle or bolt introduced into the CSF space surrounding the brain. It reflects the pressure inside of the skull.

Jargon

Spoken language that has a normal rate and rhythm but is full of nonsense words.

Kinesiology

The study of the human body and how it moves

Kinesthesia

The sensory awareness of body parts as they move (see Position Sense and Proprioception).

Lability

State of having notable shifts in emotional state (e.g., uncontrolled laughing or crying).

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, which can be spared.

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 inability so as to avoid duty or work.

Manipulation

the application of pressure to a person’s spine or other parts of their body by a qualified chiropractic doctor, or chiropractor. This pressure allows a chiropractor to adjust and correct alignment.

Memory, Episodic

Memory for ongoing events in a person’s life. 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 a 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. Requires storage and retrieval of information which exceeds the limit of short term memory.

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

Regulation of the timing and amount of contraction of muscles of the body to produce smooth and coordinated movement. The regulation is carried out by operation of the nervous system.

Motor Planning

Action formulated in the mind before attempting to perform.

Muscle Tone

Used in clinical practice to describe the resistance of a muscle to being stretched. When the peripheral nerve to a muscle is severed, the muscle becomes flaccid (limp). When nerve fibers in the brain or spinal cord are damaged, the balance between facilitation and inhibition of muscle tone is disturbed. The tone of some muscles may become increased and they resist being stretched–a condition called hypertonicity or spasticity.

Myoclonic

Sporadic, isolated jerking movements

Neglect

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

Neologism

Nonsense or made-up words used when speaking. The person often does not realize that the word makes no sense.

Neurofeedback

Also known as EEG (electroencephalogram) biofeedback, it is a therapeutic intervention that provides immediate feedback from a computer-based program that assesses a person’s brainwave activity. By responding to this feedback, a person can learn to regulate and improve their brain function and to reduce symptoms of various neurological and mental health disorders.

Neurologist

A physician who specializes in the nervous system and its disorders.

Neuropsychologist

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

Non-ambulatory

Not able to walk.

Nystagmus

Involuntary horizontal, vertical, or rotary movement of the eyeballs. See also vision after head injury.

Occipital Lobe

Region in the back of the brain which processes visual information. Damage to this lobe can cause visual deficits.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is the therapeutic use of self-care, work and play activities to increase independent function, enhance development and prevent disability; may include the adaptation of a task or the environment to achieve maximum independence and to enhance the quality of life. The term occupation, as used in occupational therapy, refers to any activity engaged in for evaluating, specifying and treating problems interfering with functional performance.

Orientation

Awareness of one’s environment and/or situation, along with the ability to use this information appropriately in a functional setting.

Orthopedics

The branch of medicine devoted to the study and treatment of the skeletal system, its joints, muscles and associated structures.

Orthosis

Splint or brace designed to improve function or provide stability.

Outpatient

The patient residing outside the hospital but returning on a regular basis for one or more therapeutic services.

Paraplegia

Paralysis of the legs (from the waist down).

Parietal Lobe

One of the two parietal lobes of the brain located behind the frontal lobe at the top of the brain.

Partial Seizure

Can be divided into simple partial (awareness is present), complex partial (no awareness) and partial seizure with secondary generalized seizure (initial awareness into no awareness and convulsions).

Perception

The ability to make sense of what one sees, hears, feels, tastes or smells. Perceptual losses are often very subtle, and the patient and/or family may be unaware of them.

Perseveration

The inappropriate repetition of a word, phrase or gesture after a stimulus has ceased. May be of external physical representation or perseveration of thought.

Persistent Vegetative State (PVS)

A long-standing condition in which the patient utters no words and does not follow commands or make any response that is meaningful.

Phonation

The production of sound by means of vocal cord vibration.

Physiatrist

Pronounced Fizz ee at’ rist. A physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Some physiatrists are experts in neurologic rehabilitation, trained to diagnose and treat disabling conditions. The physiatrist examines the patient to assure that medical issues are addressed; provides appropriate medical information to the patient, family members and members of the treatment team. The physiatrist follows the patient closely throughout treatment and oversees the patient’s rehabilitation program.

Physical Therapist

The physical therapist evaluates components of movement, including: muscle strength, muscle tone, posture, coordination, endurance, and general mobility. The physical therapist also evaluates the potential for functional movement, such as ability to move in the bed, transfers and walking and then proceeds to establish an individualized treatment program to help the patient achieve functional independence.

Plasticity

The ability of cellular or tissue structures and their resultant function to be influenced by an ongoing activity.

Plateau

A temporary or permanent leveling off in the recovery process.

Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA)

A period of hours, weeks, days or months after the injury when the patient exhibits a loss of day-to-day memory. The patient is unable to store new information and therefore has a decreased ability to learn. Memory of the PTA period is never stored, therefore things that happened during that period cannot be recalled. May also be called Anterograde Amnesia.

Posture

The attitude of the body. Posture is maintained by low-grade, continuous contraction of muscles which counteract the pull of gravity on body parts. Injury to the nervous system can impair the ability to maintain normal posture, for example holding up the head.

Pre-Morbid Condition

Characteristics of an individual present before the disease or injury occurred.

Problem-Solving Skill

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.

Procedural memory

When needed, procedural memories are automatically retrieved and utilized for the execution of the integrated procedures involved in both cognitive and motor skills; from tying shoes to flying an airplane to reading. The cerebellum is associated with procedural memory.

Prognosis

The prospect as to recovery from a disease or injury as indicated by the nature and symptoms of the case.

Prone

Lying on one’s stomach.

Proprioception

The sensory awareness of the position of body parts with or without movement. Combination of kinesthesia and position sense.

Psychologist

A professional specializing in counselling, including adjustment to disability. Psychologists use tests to identify personality and cognitive functioning. This information is shared with team members to assure consistency in approaches. The psychologist may provide individual or group psychotherapy for the purpose of cognitive retraining, management of behavior and the development of coping skills by the patient/client and members of the family.

Range of Motion (ROM)

Refers to movement of a joint (important to prevent contractures).

Reasoning, Abstract

Mode of thinking in which the individual recognizes a phrase that has multiple meanings and selects the meaning most appropriate to a given situation. The term “abstract” typically refers to concepts not readily apparent from the physical attributes of an object or situation.

Reasoning, Concrete

The ability to understand the literal meaning of a phrase.

Reasoning, Problem-Solving

The ability to analyze information related to a given situation and generate appropriate response options. Problem-solving is a sequential process that typically proceeds as follows: identification of problem; generation of response options; evaluation of response option appropriateness; selection and testing of first option; analysis as to whether solution has been reached. A patient/client may discontinue making a cup of coffee because the sugar bowl is empty, even though sugar is readily available in a nearby cabinet. A patient/client may easily navigate his way into a room crowded with furniture, but request staff assistance to navigate his way out.

Reasoning, Sequencing

The ability to organize information or objects according to specified rules, or the ability to arrange information or objects in a logical, progressive manner. Nearly every activity, including work and leisure tasks, requires sequencing. For example, in cooking certain foods it is important that ingredients be added and mixed in a specified order; in dressing, undergarments must be put on prior to outergarments.

Recreation Therapist

Individuals within the facility responsible for developing a program to assist persons with disabilities plan and manage their leisure activities; may also schedule specific activities and coordinate the program with existing community resources.

Rehabilitation

Comprehensive program to reduce/overcome deficits following injury or illness, and to assist the individual to attain the optimal level of mental and physical ability.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Also called Vocational Counselor. A specialist in social and vocational issues who helps the patient develop the skills and aptitudes necessary for return to productive activity and the community.

Rehabilitation Facility

Agency of multiple, coordinated services designed to minimize for the individual the disabling effects of one’s physical, mental, social, and/or vocational difficulties and to help realize individual potential.

Rehabilitation Nurse

A nurse specializing in rehabilitation techniques as well as basic nursing care. Nurses assist the patient and family in acquiring new information, developing skills, achieving competence and exhibiting behaviors that contribute to the attainment of a healthy state.

Retrograde Amnesia

Inability to recall events that occurred prior to the accident; may be a specific span of time or type of information.

Short Term Memory

The capacity for holding a small amount of information in the mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. The Hippocampus is associated with short term memory.

Seizure

An uncontrolled discharge of nerve cells which may spread to other cells nearby or throughout the entire brain. It usually lasts only a few minutes. It may be associated with loss of consciousness, loss of bowel and bladder control and tremors. May also cause aggression or other behavioral change.

Sensation

Feeling stimuli which activate sensory organs of the body, such as touch, temperature, pressure and pain. Also seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting.

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 procedure to draw off excessive fluid in the brain. A surgically-placed tube running from the ventricles which deposits fluid into either the abdominal cavity, heart or large veins of the neck.

Somatosensory

Sensory activity having its origin elsewhere than in the special sense organs (such as eyes and ears) and conveying information to the brain about the state of the body proper and its immediate environment.

Spasticity

An involuntary increase in muscle tone (tension) that occurs following injury to the brain or spinal cord, causing the muscles to resist being moved. Characteristics may include increase in deep tendon reflexes, resistance to passive stretch, clasp knife phenomenon, and clonus.

Spatial Ability

Ability to perceive the construction of an object in both two and three dimensions. Spatial ability has four components: the ability to perceive a static figure in different positions, the ability to interpret and duplicate the movements between various parts of a figure, the ability to perceive the relationship between an object and a person’s own body sphere, and the ability to interpret the person’s body as an object in space.

Speech-language Pathology Services

A continuum of services including prevention, identification, diagnosis, consultation, and treatment of patients regarding speech, language, oral and pharyngeal sensorimotor function.

Spontaneous Recovery

The recovery which occurs as damage to body tissues heals. This type of recovery occurs with or without rehabilitation and it is very difficult to know how much improvement is spontaneous and how much is due to rehabilitative interventions. However, when the recovery is guided by an experienced rehabilitation team, complications can be anticipated and minimized; the return of function can be channeled in useful directions and in progressive steps so that the eventual outcome is the best that is possible.

Subcortex

The part of the brain directly below the cerebral cortex and deep within the brain. It consists of three main areas: The brainstem, midbrain and forebrain and are involved in complex activities such as memory, emotion, pleasure and hormone production.

Subdural

Beneath the dura (tough membrane) covering the brain and spinal cord.

Supine

Lying on one’s back.

Suppository

Medicine contained in a capsule which is inserted into the rectum so that the medicine can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Tactile Defensiveness

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

Task Analysis

Breakdown of a particular job into its component parts; information gained from task analysis can be utilized to develop training curricula or to price a product or service.

Temporal Lobes

There are two temporal lobes, one on each side of the brain located at about the level of the ears. These lobes allow a person to tell one smell from another and one sound from another. They also help in sorting new information and are believed to be responsible for short-term memory.

Right Lobe–Mainly involved in visual memory (i.e., memory for pictures and faces).

Left Lobe–Mainly involved in verbal memory (i.e., memory for words and names).

Thalamus

A small structure within the brain located just above the brainstem between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain. The primary function of the thalamus is to relay motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex.

Tinnitus

Noise or ringing in the ears which is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as inner ear or hearing nerve damage from a head injury.

Tonic

Muscle stiffness and rigidity

Tracheostomy

A temporary surgical opening at the front of the throat providing access to the trachea or windpipe to assist in breathing.

Tracking, Visual

Visually following an object as it moves through space. See also vision after head injury.

Tremor, Intention

Course, rhythmic movements of a body part that become intensified the harder one tries to control them.

Tremor, Resting

Rhythmical movements present at rest and may be diminished during voluntary movement.

Unilateral Neglect

Paying little or no attention to things on one side of the body. This usually occurs on the side opposite from the location of the injury to the brain because nerve fibers from the brain typically cross before innervating body structures. 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.

Verbal Apraxia

Impaired control of proper sequencing of 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

Pertaining to the vestibular system in the middle ear and the brain which senses movements of the head. Disorders of the vestibular system can lead to dizziness, poor regulation of postural muscle tone and inability to detect quick movements of the head.

Working memory

The ability to actively hold information in the mind needed to do complex tasks, such as reasoning, comprehension and learning. Associated with frontal and parietal lobe. Examples include goal oriented active monitoring or manipulation of information or behaviors in the face of interfering processes and distractions.