Practice Makes Proficient

Neurorehabilitation from a brain injury involves learning and re-learning a long list of activities.  Patients work on skills such as naming items, transferring from a wheelchair and using adaptive equipment.  Therapy sessions often consist of countless repetitions of the same action, drilling skills over and over.  Further, therapists will usually send patients home with discharge plans to continue practicing these same skills at home.  Sometimes, patients will wonder why they have to practice activities.  After all, if they demonstrated the skill once, doesn’t that mean they possess the skill?  Why is this repeated practice necessary?

In reality, to truly become proficient at any skill, lots of practice is necessary.  Just because a patient has succeeded at a skill on one occasion does not mean that he or she will succeed in the future.  This is true for any activity or field.  For instance, imagine hearing the following overhead announcement prior to a flight taking off the runway: “Ladies and gentleman, welcome aboard our plane.  My name is Captain Mike and I will be your pilot today.  I have successfully flown a plane once.  I anticipate we will have a smooth flight.”  After hearing this announcement, most passengers would probably run toward the exit door as quickly as possible.  Who would trust a pilot to fly a plane with a history of only one successful attempt.  We inherently recognize that lots of practice is necessary to trust that a person can reliably complete a task.  This holds true for therapy as much as for flying a plane.  Repeated practice, both in therapy and at home, is necessary for a patient to gain the skills and competence to succeed in rehabilitation goals.  It is only through practice that patients can become proficient.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center!  Visit us at: tlcrehab.org

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