If you have a loved one who suffered a brain injury, you might be asking yourself — What should the goal of rehabilitation be? What can I do to ensure that I am helping, not hindering, the process?
There is no “going back to normal”
The first thing to understand about brain injury is, full recovery — “going back to normal” — is highly unlikely. A brain injury is not a broken bone, and, thus, we should not expect it to just “heal up”. While we should not underestimate the extent to which the injured person can recover, we must remain realistic in our expectations.
The first step for setting rehabilitation goals is to redefine what “normal” will mean to you and your family. Communicate with the professionals — doctors, care staff — that are working with your loved one. Ask them questions.
- What can the injured be expected to do?
- What can they be expected to, eventually, be able to do?
- And, most importantly, what can they be expected to not ever be able to do?
The last one is, possibly, the most important question. If the injury has, for example, severely impaired the person’s motor skills, then it is unlikely that they would be able to go mountain climbing. Getting an honest view of what to expect can be crucial in avoiding future disappointment and frustration.
Each step is a step forward
Setting unrealistic goals can blind us to the small but meaningful improvements the injured makes. This is why our goals should be realistic, keeping in mind with the injured’s condition. Redefining “normal”, and striving for the most productive, independent quality of life possible is the best strategy — and the building blocks to life after injury.