Living a Full Life after Brain Injury

Living a Full Life after Brain Injury

Gary Prowe

Information for survivors and families with tips on meeting new challenges, making accommodations and developing compensatory strategies after acquired brain injury. Discusses importance of support at home and in the community for brain injury recovery and adjustment.

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Information includes tips for using compensatory strategies or doing something a bit differently, such as using alarms to signal medication time to compensate for a shaky memory or using an organizer with hourly, daily, and monthly schedules to plan ahead. Discusses how to challenge yourself and be flexible while rebuilding your life after brain injury. Includes strategies for living deliberately to prevent becoming overloaded or too pressed for time. There are tips for spouses, parents, siblings, children, friends, neighbors, and coworkers on ways to help a person with a brain injury create a fulfilling new life.

Pages 8
Year 2008


Garry Prowe, M.P.P.

He is a former public policy analyst with more than 25 years of professional research, writing, and speaking experience with the US Departments of Transportation and State. Educated at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan on a Ford Fellowship, Prowe has written more than 20 official government reports and actively participated in Vice-President Gore’s “reinventing government” initiatives, making frequent presentations to senior management and congressional staff.

In 1997, when a car accident caused his wife to sustain a brain injury, he immersed himself in the medical intricacies of his wife’s healing and recovery process, and spearheaded a support system that allowed her to survive her brain injury as well as possible. Prowe and his wife, Jessica Whitmore, are regular contributors to brain injury publications and invited speakers at brain injury conferences and support groups. They maintain a website ( for survivors and their caregivers.



Face Your New Challenges

  • Accommodate and compensate
  • Tips for compensatory tools
  • Tips for compensatory strategies or doing something a bit differently

Reinvent Yourself

  • Challenge yourself
  • Be flexible
  • Volunteer
  • Live deliberately
  • Tips for individuals who are overloaded with time
  • Tips for individuals who are always pressed for time

Seek Support and Understanding

  • Tips for families and friends to support someone with a brain injury


Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.


A brain injury can be a life-altering event. Some individuals recover and resume their lives with only minor or no disruptions. Others find themselves challenged in many new ways. Just as a brain injury is often classified as mild, moderate, or severe, so are the challenges that can follow a brain injury. They range from minor adjustments in one’s daily routine to major changes in living arrangements, careers, and future dreams. How these individuals and the people close to them react and handle these challenges can make an enormous difference in rebuilding one’s life after a brain injury.

To better understand these challenges and changes, the author surveyed 300 survivors of a brain injury and 175 of their relatives and friends. Those who participated in the survey are actively working on their recovery and were willing to share their experiences and accomplishments. Respondents included members of brain injury support groups in many states, participants in workshops at brain injury conferences, and visitors to the author’s Website.

The survey results reveal that individuals with brain injuries who believe they are living full lives have four things in common. They…

  • recognize and acknowledge the challenges caused by their injury
  • accommodate and compensate for these challenges
  • reinvent themselves
  • benefit from the understanding and support of the people close to them

The following tips may seem obvious to some readers. But remember, a brain injury can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to plan something as simple as making a sandwich. These tips may help both survivors and caregivers who are just beginning to live with a brain injury. They may serve as reminders to those who have lived with brain injury for years.

Face Your New Challenges

Many survivors and family members who responded to the survey said their lives were changed forever by the brain injury. Understanding and accepting this has helped them change their expectations. This was an important step in rebuilding their lives.

Accommodate and compensate

The next step described by survivors and families is learning to accommodate and compensate for the challenges caused by the brain injury. For many, this meant learning new ways to do things. It also meant learning how to build on their remaining strengths, rather than focusing on their difficulties.

Tips for compensatory tools include using…

  • Alarms to go off at medication time to compensate for a shaky memory
  • An organizer with hourly, daily, and monthly schedules to plan ahead to compensate for trouble managing time
  • Voice recognition computer software to compensate for difficulty using a keyboard
  • Audio books to compensate for changes in vision or reading comprehension.