Tag Archives: acceptance

It’s Ok To Do It Differently

When I was a senior in high school, I had a physics teacher whose outlook differed from that of most science teachers.  Early in the year she told us that when we answered questions on her tests, she did not care about how we came to a given answer.  As long as that answer was correct, the method by which it was arrived upon did not matter.  Work did still have to be shown as in any other science class.  Even if that work bore no resemblance to that which she had prescribed though, a result was perfectly acceptable provided that the answers matched.

In many ways a healthy approach to rehabilitation is similar to this outlook championed by my former physics teacher.  Due to their injuries, rehabilitation patients are often unable to complete tasks in the same manner as they did before.  For instance, a patient with only one functioning hand will not be able to cut vegetables for a salad as he or she did prior to the injury but utilizing a one-handed rocker knife produces the same results.  A patient who has trouble speaking may not be able to verbally place an order at a restaurant but typing the order into an Ipad speech app produces the same results.  As you can see, there are often multiple methods by which to accomplish a given goal.  Effectiveness is the most important measure of a method’s worth, not whether it is identical to a previous method.

The idea of reaching the same goal through different methods sometimes bothers patients and their families.  In some cases, patients and their families refuse to use alternative methods because they are focused on doing things in exactly the same way as they have in the past.  A patient completing minor tasks just as he or she did prior to an injury holds strong appeal as a signifier of a return to normalcy.  However, due to the injuries this may not be realistic either at this stage of rehabilitation or for the foreseeable future.  Accepting alternative methods consistently allows patients to be far more functional in both work and home environments.  These alternative methods often allow patients to be more independent whereas insistence upon pre-injury methods can  bring with it a dependence on others.  It is important that patients and their families embrace alternative methods of accomplishing daily goals so that patients can achieve at their highest levels.  This open-minded attitude often yields the best long-term therapy results.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: http://tlcrehab.org/

Finding Balance

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