In the past it was commonly believed that recovery occurred mainly the first six months, and tapered off, or plateaued at around two years after the injury. This could be very discouraging for people to think recovery was limited to two years. However, this idea that recovery reaches a plateau at some point has been questioned. Many people report continued improvements and even significant breakthroughs many years later. It is important to find a comfortable balance between working hard on recovery and accepting limitations. Hope and determination are helpful qualities for people adjusting to brain injury.
The following tips may be helpful to make the most out of rehabilitation and recovery:
- keep working on things you know you’re good at, but also deliberately target problem areas.
- keep a diary so you can look back and see how for you’ve come.
- Pace yourself- find the balance between putting in effort and taking care of yourself. if you’re wiped out for days you are doing too much.
- pick the times of day where you have the most energy.
- make sure you have a suitable environment when you need to take a break, away from noise, disruptions, and bright light.
- cry when needed, and tell people if you feel overwhelmed. Know when to ask for support from health professionals, family or friends.
- remember you are not alone, many people have gone through the experience of brain injury, and emerged as stronger people for the experience. Consider a peer support group if you think it would be helpful for you.
Most people who have experienced brain injury report that they have slowly managed to piece their lives back together; finding meaning, growth and enjoyment in life again. Recovery from brain injury doesn’t necessarily mean people will be the same as they were before the injury. Rehabilitation will help regain as much lost function as possible.
This idea of getting back to “normal” can be a good motivator for people to work hard on their recovery. But for some people, particularly when the injury is severe, changes can be permanent. Recovery can involve learning how to integrate the injury into one’s life, and finding new ways of doing things. It’s important to get involved in activities which bring meaning and purpose to life.