Intentional Living After TBI
Finding your way after a stroke, ABI, MBI, TBI, Concussion, and related conditions is uncharted territory in every sense of the word. Intentional living not only defines the attitude that will help you work toward improvement, it also defines how you will continue to live going forward.
For every case that takes a definitive route, and a measurable outcome, others can spend a lifetime making even a portion of headway that others may achieve.
When anyone claims to know the way, it’s only because that’s the way that works for them. There’s no other way to say it. Rehabilitation after a TBI (no matter what variety) is always on a case-by-case basis, with progress being made according to many variables and factors.
Cognitive rehabilitation should be left to professional clinicians, and follow-up cognitive growth can be an independent venture – and best if applied in line with your doctor’s overall plan. I’ll be excerpting some information from the book “Brain Injury – It is a Journey” that is an excellent resource for families of TBI survivors that are helping someone they love to begin their journey.
*In the book, there are tons of resources, but one of the most poignant points are in these simple checklists:
Changes After Brain Injury
Changes in a person after a brain injury depend on which areas of the brain are
affected and the severity of the injury. Use these lists to check mark affected areas.
These will change over time as the person progresses. Possible consequences of a
brain injury includes:
– Muscle spasticity
– Weakness or paralysis
– Balance and coordination difficulties
– Changes in vision or hearing
– Loss of smell or taste
– Difficulty swallowing
– Changes in appetite
– Increased sensitivity to smells, light or sound
– Changes in sensitivity to touch
– Fatigue, increased need for sleep
– Changes in sleep patterns
Cognitive (thinking and learning) consequences
– Short-term memory loss
– Long-term memory loss
– Slowed ability to process information
– Difficulty organizing and planning ahead
– Poor judgment
– Inability to do more than one thing at a time
– Lack of initiating or starting activities
– Easily distracted
– Disoriented or confused to surroundings
– Shorter attention span
– Repeatedly says or thinks same thing
– Slurred or unclear speech
– Difficulty finding the right word
– Difficulty staying on topic
– Trouble listening
– Dominating conversations
– Difficulty reading
– Rate of speech too fast or too slow
– Things taken too literally
– Difficulty understanding what is said
– Increased anxiety
– Self centered behavior or thinking
– Easily irritated, angered or frustrated
– Overreacts, cries or laughs too easily
– Different sexual behavior
– Impulsive, acts or talks without thinking
– Mood swings
– Dependent or clinging behavior*
Having a full understanding of Brain Injury Rehabilitation and how it’s tailored to each survivor is critical. Clinical care managers and social workers help evaluate a survivor’s needs (as well as their family, caregivers, friends, etc.), and can help connect them to the proper resources in their own communities.
When the TBI survivor is still in school, a cognitive education specialist will help navigate their continuing education challenges through meeting with the educators and staff, as well as compensatory strategies for learning after TBI.
Occupational therapists can help a survivor get back on track with their personal lives to maximize their independence and ongoing improvements with cognitive, sensory, mobility, and other challenges. Their goal is to get the TBI survivor on the right path to independence and handling the challenges of daily life.
Pastoral care can provide comfort, counsel, prayer and encouragement to the TBI survivor, as well as their family.
A Physiatrist is a specialized doctor whose primary focus is on physical medicine and rehabilitation. They lead and monitor rehabilitation treatment programs and make referrals to specialists as necessary. Besides monitoring the survivor’s medical status, ordering tests, and providing prescriptions, the physiatrist provides followup to assist the survivor with inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.
Physical therapists evaluate and work to improve physical issues such as strength, endurance, pain, balance, mobility, and more. They also teach “at home” exercise programs for safe transferring techniques.
Psychologists can provide education and therapy to survivors and their family members, especially when dealing with adjustments after a TBI.
Neuropsychologists provide additional help by offering expertise regarding the relationship between the brain and behavior – and may include testing to better understand the TBI survivor’s specific needs.
Dieticians provide nutritional counseling for TBI survivors regarding their best diet options for the specific needs and to enhance their health/weight.
When needed, as respiratory therapist works to stabilize a person’s lungs as a result of trauma or disease. This therapy is aimed at getting the patient’s function as close to normal as possible, and to lessen the complications of respiratory impairment. Respiratory therapists primarily work under the direction of the TBI survivor’s physician.
Speech and Language Pathologists evaluate speech, language and cognitive deficits – along with communication, swallowing issues, and more. The goal is to provide cognitive retraining for compensatory strategies and to make improvements for better communication, independent living, and activities. If a TBI survivor is unable to speak, a speech pathologist can also assist with alternative forms of communication through technology, and other various approaches.
Therapeutic recreation specialists, vocational rehabilitation counselors and vocational services are three other targeted types of professional help that can greatly improve a TBI survivor’s quality of life ongoing.
These pointers are excerpted or referenced from the aforementioned book titled: Brain Injury, It Is a Journey – published by Lash & Associates Publishing. The book is a great find for survivors and their families and offers some keen insights and advice for making the most of life after a TBI…and how to approach it with the full intention of prevailing over TBI. Written by professionals with many years of experience in the field of working with survivors of traumatic brain injuries, aneurysm, stroke, concussion, and more, this book is well worth the investment!
Thanks for reading, and the link to the book (on our website) is here: https://www.lapublishing.com/brain-injury-family-guide/
The book is also available in Spanish: https://www.lapublishing.com/spanish-brain-injury-book/