Brain injury rehabilitation is essential to whatever recovery is possible for a person who has suffered such an injury. Our book points out that no two brains are alike; therefore, no two injured brains are alike.
That, as you will learn if you have not already experienced it, is one reason the health insurance industry and the medical community tend to approach brain injury with one hand tied behind their backs.
Antibiotics, antihistamines, splints, bandages and casts will not fix an injured brain. A medical doctor can treat the head wound that caused the brain injury. Speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists can help people "deal with" the results of brain injury.
Think of some of the words and phrases you have heard: brain injury, traumatic brain injury, anoxic brain injury, stroke, acquired brain injury, head injury, mild head injury, concussion...and on and on.
Let's face it: every brain injury is traumatic to the injured person AND the injured person's family. The Brain Injury Association of America has a pamphlet that rightfully points out that brain injury is unwanted, unexpected and life-long.
It's that life-long part that upsets the medical community and, most especially, the health insurance industry.
Dr. Glen Johnson, Clinical Neuropsychologist, said in his book, TBI Survival Guide:
This book cannot explain all types of head injury. The largest number of patients that I see are described by professionals as having a "mild" head injury. Just to be very clear--having a "mild" head injury does not mean the person has "mild" problems. A "mild" head injury can prevent someone from returning to work and can make family relationships a nightmare. Those who appear "normal" are sometimes those who suffer the most. They may look the same and talk the same--but they are very different.
Life-long does not mean untreatable. Our book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide, was written specifically to help victims and families compensate for an inured brain. A goal of this website is to help everyone affected by brain injury to learn how to get the most out of life after brain injury.
Brain injury rehab, in the majority of cases, is the responsibility of family members. Loved ones will see problems that no one else can see. Brain injury survivor Courtney Larson said, "My husband tells me I'm different now, but I can't remember me. Mom says that my personality is changed, but I don't remember my other personality."
Of course many persons suffering from brain injury simply deny that anything has changed in their lives. Or, they'll say something like, "Once this medication wears off, I'll be back to normal."
Brain injury is a set of problems. The set usually has three categories: memory, cognitive and behavioral. Each of those categories has categories. For instance, let's take a quick look at a few behavioral problems.
- Being too optimistic
- Being impatient
- Being irritable
- Verbal outbursts
- Being impulsive
- Being suspicious
- Lack of motivation
- Inappropriate social behavior
- Increased or decreased sexual interest
That's just ten behavioral items. Inappropriate social behavior could be talking too loudly, talking too much, cursing, unwanted touching, immodesty, and more.
Talking too loudly could apply in a movie, in church, in a social setting or, simply, sitting with family members.
Only loved ones will see and know the vast number of problems that arise following a brain injury, and only those loved ones will know what areas need to be addressed during rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, not all problems come to the surface at the same time. A brain injured person may not go to a movie or go to church for a number of months after the injury. You will not know the problem of talking too loudly in church is an issue until they do it.
And, how do you discover if your family member has an increased or decreased interest in sex?
Good Communication if the Key
Developing good communication is essential, but it can also be a problem in itself. As we pointed out in our book, Beth did not know who I was after her brain injury. Even when she came to live with this "strange family" after leaving the hospital, she slept on the couch.
Action speaks louder than words. How many times have you heard that in your life? You've heard it because it's true. Family members must "show" through countless actions that the brain injured person is the most important person in their lives. You must first develop a sense of trust; then you can develop good communication. And, then, you can identify more problems.
As each problem is identified, you must work out a plan to resolve it. Many times that resolution will be a strategy that compensates for the issue. And many times it will be a combination of strategies that will produce a positive result.
Brain injury rehabilitation cannot be written down in black and white. There is no "do this and everything will be okay" program. Formal rehab in a neuromedical facility usually lasts four or five months. Brain injury, however, lasts a lifetime.
Estimates show that only about 25% of brain injury victims receive formal rehabilitation services. It might be that many victims do not have insurance coverage for brain injury rehab. It might be that the medical community does not think neuromedical rehabilitation will produce positive results. It might even be that no one thought about brain injury rehab as a possibility.
Family Caregivers are the Answer
In our book and on this site you will find a number of facilities that provide neuromedical rehabilitation. But the best care will come from family members.
Family support groups are an essential part of being a caregiver. They offer you the opportunity to exchange ideas and get answers to your many questions.
Encourage all family members to participate in the many sections of this website. We have quizzes and games and articles that all lead toward the same goal: helping a brain injured person become a successful brain injury survivor.
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