Using Brain Stimulation to Enhance Cognitive Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI and Initial Rehabilitation Efforts


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can significantly affect a person's physical and cognitive abilities. Traditional rehabilitation focuses mainly on motor function recovery, but recent research suggests that non-invasive brain stimulation could help improve cognitive outcomes, as well. Here's a look at a compelling case study about an individual named Trevor Greene who experienced remarkable improvements in both motor and cognitive function after combining physical therapy with translingual neurostimulation (TLNS).

What is Translingual Neurostimulation (TLNS)?

TLNS uses a device that delivers mild electrical stimulation to the tongue. This stimulation activates specific nerves (cranial nerves V and VII) that connect to the brain, potentially promoting neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change and adapt.

The Case of Trevor Greene

In 2006, Canadian soldier Trevor Greene (TG) suffered a severe TBI while on tour in Afghanistan. Despite intensive physical therapy, his recovery plateaued. In 2018, TG started a new rehabilitation program that combined physical therapy with TLNS. This resulted in significant improvements in motor function, as well as objective changes in brain activity related to neuroplasticity.

Measuring Cognitive Recovery

Researchers used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure TG’s cognitive function before and during the combined therapy using the brain's vital signs framework. This framework analyzes event-related potentials (ERPs) that reflect:


    • N100: Early auditory sensation
    • P300: Basic attention
    • N400: Cognitive processing

The results showed significant increases in these ERPs after TLNS, indicating improvements in attention and cognitive processing. Alongside these objective findings, TG also reported a meaningful reduction in his ongoing PTSD symptoms.

Key Takeaways

    • Neuromodulation's Potential: This case study spotlights the possibility of using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques like TLNS to aid in cognitive recovery after TBI.
    • Combined Therapy: Combining brain stimulation with physical therapy could be more effective than physical therapy alone.
    • PTSD Relief: TLNS may have beneficial effects on reducing PTSD symptoms in TBI patients.

Limitations and Future Directions

    • Single Case Study: TG's case is inspiring, but larger clinical trials are needed to confirm the generalizability of TLNS for cognitive recovery in TBI.
    • Ongoing Research: More investigation is needed to refine and optimize the use of TLNS in rehabilitation.


This case study sheds light on the exciting possibilities of non-invasive brain stimulation in cognitive rehabilitation. While further research is warranted, this work emphasizes the brain's remarkable capacity for recovery and highlights the potential of innovative therapies to improve the lives of individuals with TBI.