Ingredients for Recovery
Understandably the biggest issue after acquiring a brain injury
for many is the extent of recovery that can be expected. In the
hospital estimates can be based on various medical factors such as
the length of coma and post traumatic amnesia. But there are other
factors that have a significant influence.
Many rehabilitation professionals have found that people with
determined personalities and a positive outlook do better than
expected during the rehabilitation phase. This also applies for
people who tended to be selfless and concerned about others before
their injury. They often make sense of what has happened to them by
turning it into a positive outcome, such as using their experience
to help others by running a support group.
Supportive family and friends can also be crucial in the long
term. Social isolation is very common for many after a brain
injury, leading to depression and difficulties with facing the long
road to recovery. The following is the story of Gail Pursey, a
survivor who has been fortunate to have all these factors helping
her towards her recovery after a motor vehicle accident.
I awoke in hospital wrapped in bandages and plaster. This is all I
remember of a serious hit and run car accident in December 1990. My
car was parked on the road and a witness said that I was unlocking
my car door. He noticed another motorist who drove around the
corner then ploughed into me. I was hit on my left side and flung
twenty metres from the car. Landing on my head left with me with a
fractured skull and brain injuries.
My fractured pelvis and left leg healed fairly quickly but my
brain injury remains. I have hidden disabilities such as epilepsy,
tinnitus, communication problems, poor eyesight, poor balance and
some behavioural problems. I do not drive a care but if I want to
(and keep my licence) I need a medical certificate every year.
I have learned strategies to trigger my memory, help my hidden
disabilities so that I can manage to get by day by day. Initially
doctors thought I would never work again as a ward nurse except
maybe in a voluntary capacity. However I defied their opinion when
I returned to work as a theatre nurse.
My family, friends and a self help group helped me to grow strong
and I am always active. During Brain Injury Awareness Week and
throughout the year I go to schools and give talks about brain
injury awareness and prevention. This has given me a lot of self
confidence speaking to young people of the age that have most car
I have had these disabilities since day one, but due to my
determination and support from family and friends, I take one day
at a time and have never looked back.
I look forward to each new day and chances to grow. So look ahead
and don't stop. Think positively and you too can reach your