Encephalitis affects each patient differently. There are many variables, such as the cause, the symptoms, the area(s) of the brain affected, etc. The information in the following FAQs is intended as general information only, and should not to be considered medical advice. Always check with a physician for guidance specific to a patient’s condition.
General FAQs About Encephalitis
The symptoms and signs of these conditions overlap significantly. In general, meningitis is characterized by fever, headache, vomiting, photophobia (light sensitivity) and clinical signs of irritation of the meninges such as neck stiffness. The clinical manifestations of encephalitis depend on the area of the brain affected, but often include an altered or reduced level of consciousness, seizures or focal neurologic deficits. Both meningitis and encephalitis can be caused by many different infections as well as non-infectious conditions.
FAQs About the Acute Phase of Encephalitis
FAQs About the Long Term Effects of Encephalitis
So the brain will improve, but the extent of recovery will vary. Additionally, improvements may occur in spurts that are interspersed with periods of plateauing with no noticeable improvement. Even in periods where improvement is not measureable, it is believed that the brain is consolidating and learning new information, making these periods just as important. Brief set-backs should not lead to discouragement, as recovery from encephalitis is not a straight slope, but can take a rather more circuitous route.
FAQs About Treatment and Rehabilitation for Encephalitis
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, and cognitive therapy are all possible rehabilitation modalities. Some sequelae can lead to frustration, anxiety or depression. Several of the residuals are “invisible,” leaving the patient with a sense of isolation. Seeking psychological care is important for changes in mood or sense of well-being.
It is essential to remember that progress is usually slow in coming, and rehabilitation can take months, even years.
- Mobility issues – physical therapy support
- Coordination or fine motor issues – occupational therapy and assistance with
daily living activities
- Communication or swallowing difficulties – speech and language pathologists
- Seizures – a neurologist or epilepsy specialist should follow a patient
- Memory or thinking difficulties – a cognitive rehabilitation specialist or
- Depression or changes in behavior – psychologist, psychiatrist or behavioral
All of these therapies are best coordinated by a physiatrist. A physiatrist is a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation medicine and can keep an overview of a person’s progress in all of these areas, including medications.