Traumatic Brain Injury

The human brain always wants to learn.  No matter if there has been a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or a genetic or neurological condition exists, the human brain wants to improve.  It’s how the brain processes the given information that’s crucial.  The patient, family and therapist need to step back and look at how the trauma affected the brain’s ability to learn, particularly if any of this is new.  Just because a person has been able to advance to a certain point, prior to their condition setting in, or had particular likes and dislikes prior to the trauma, the way they are now may be completely different.  By not acknowledging new avenues of neuro development, applying standard therapies can be frustrating and cause even more regression than what has already taken place.  For example, someone that used to learn by reading might now be a tactile or visual learner.

Remember its Different not Difficult

When you allow our brain to say, “I can’t,” you will experience the most rapid form of ageing.  You will limit what you experience and start applying “can’t“ to more and more situations.  So what if you can’t use your left hand, it’s just different.  It might seem difficult switching a function to the right hand at first, but just tell yourself it’s different.  This will allow your brain to make more choices and seek new options on how to learn differently.  Every new thing that you do differently creates new neuropathways which rapidly allows the brain to move to a higher functioning level.

The entire body needs to move

Just as you can’t eat an apple without it nourishing your entire body, you can’t move one part of your body without affecting the rest of your system.  Your entire body moves. Many people come to me wanting a hand to work, not realizing that their back function and breathing are also unorganized.  Many therapists think that muscle or core strength is the key to success.  This is a misconception that can make a client feel like a failure too early in the recovery process.  A healthy baby doesn’t need six pack abs to learn all the important life skill foundations.  If an infant did present these kinds of muscles, prior to one year of age, his brain is exhibiting developmental challenges.  That concept is not much different for an adult.  Don’t confuse what you can’t do versus what you don’t know how to do.  If anyone tells you that you should be a certain level, or be doing something specific, and they don’t know to show you how to do it, it’s time to find a new therapist.  I see this all this time, especially with children.  Their therapist is informing parents of all the things that a child can’t do, without being able to show the parent how to help the child.  The brain works as efficiently as it knows how at that moment.  It’s up to me, as a movement therapist, to show the brain and body what to do, as opposed to telling it what to do.  That’s the reason that movement is so efficient versus theories of muscle memory. 

Therapist client relationship

After a TBI or other event, your relationship with a therapist or facility should be just as important as a parent or spouse.  Starting to recover after a TBI, there is an area where there can be a fine line between motivation and quitting.  The patient might not be able to express his/her inabilities to work in the manor presented to him/her.  It might be up to a partner or family member to change the way that a therapist is approaching the patient, or to seek out a new therapist or facility.  Don’t blame the patient, especially if you’re expecting him/her to react in a manor before the trauma.

Traumatic Brain Injury