There are many struggles a brain injury survivor faces when rehabilitating from a brain injury. It is often difficult for the survivor to relearn how to walk or talk and the survivor is generally confronted with new experiences of fatigue, frustration and varying levels of physical pain. These types of struggles are relatively apparent to outside observers. However, there is one struggle that will often go unnoticed; this is the struggle to find balance between acceptance and change.
Generally, brain injury survivors work diligently to improve their functional proficiencies. They pour in blood, sweat and tears in the effort to regain abilities and learn new ways of performing tasks. This is important since there is little success in rehabilitation without substantial effort. Unfortunately, some brain injury survivors get so caught up in impending improvement that they can view themselves currently as effectively worthless. They may think, “As long as I am only 75% better then I am only 75% of a real human. Until I am 100% better I am just a waste of space.” This type of thinking will almost invariably lead to anger, depression and despondency.
Then there is the flip side to the above problem. Some survivors are so content with the levels at which they currently function that they see no reason to bother trying to get better. They lose precious opportunities for improvement because they do not see any need to change. They may think, “I accept myself and I like myself as is, why should I try to do more?” This type of thinking leads to complacency and lack of motivation and more often than not, to eventual inconsolable regret.
The most effective strategy is to try to achieve a balance of these two approaches. One of the major emotional challenges of brain injury rehabilitation is for the survivor to be able to fully love his or her self while at the same time still remaining fully committed to the work of rehabilitation. This is not an easy task and often requires loved ones to help survivors recognize the value of rehabilitation while also never losing sight of their own intrinsic self-worth. Achieving a satisfactory balance between acceptance and change is one of the greatest struggles of rehabilitation.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org