It is important to have patience when recovering from a brain injury. It is crucial you give your brain time to rest in order to heal. Support from family and friends is key.
During the healing process, a brain injury survivor may be required to re-learn or adjust the way some daily functions are completed. Explore this page to learn more about physical recovery from a TBI and stroke, the importance of support from family and friends, as well as strategies to adjust to a new daily routine.
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Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery
In this video, learn about recovery during the acute and rehabilitation stages of injury. Find out more about compensatory strategies as well as how families can support their loved ones during recovery.
In this video, find out what may happen during the initial recovery stage. Learn about neural plasticity and the difference there may be in the speed of motor versus speech recovery.
Strategies to Assist Learning
Life after a brain injury often requires re-learning skill. Many of the things that were simple before your injury may now be difficult and take a lot more effort.
We all use strategies or tools to make our life easier (e.g. sticky notes, calendar on our phone). After a brain injury, you might need to use more strategies or tools that will help you to re-learn your everyday activities. Learning how to use a strategy is a skill. When learning a new strategy, it takes time and practice. But over time, it will get easier as it becomes a habit.
Below are some tips we suggest for creating new, manageable habits. Click on the plus symbol next to the words to learn more about each strategy:
After a brain injury, you may become tired very easily. This is very common. This may last for a few weeks or months, or for the rest of your life. The brain needs rest to help with healing. The injured brain has trouble dealing with lots of activity and information. It needs a rest to keep things from becoming overwhelming.
It is important that you get enough rest each day. You may need naps during the day, and/or quiet time. Sometimes medication is needed to help with sleeping at night.
Slow down and give yourself extra time to complete tasks. Avoid deadlines, and work on one thing at a time at your own pace. You may also need extra time to think about and answer a question, to take part in a conversation and to respond to something you heard. It’s OK to ask someone to repeat what has been said.
It is important that activities and information be as simple as possible. Keep in mind problems you may have with memory, vision, movement, speech, etc.
Examples of simplifying at home:
- Ask the pharmacist to put your pills in a weekly “bubble pack”
- Keep your medicine in a place that is easy to see
- Use only one calendar or day timer
- Do not put too much information on a calendar or day timer
- Use a simple reminder list
- Use a grocery list when you go to the store
- Stay away from big, crowded supermarkets, and shop at the quietest time of the day
- Turn off the radio or TV when having a conversation
- Remove clutter in your home to make it easier to find things
- Read short articles (i.e. in magazines) rather than trying to read books
Repetition: We all learn the best if information is repeated many times. This is even more important after a brain injury. Lots of practice and lots of repetition is needed to learn new things.
The best way to do this is to make what you are trying to learn part of your usual daily activities. For example, if you are learning to prepare a meal then practice this at lunch or dinner time. Or, if you are learning one handed dressing techniques, then practice at the time you would normally get dressed.
Watch out for getting too tired – take a break if you feel tired.
Structure: You may have trouble organizing your schedule. Life may be very confusing. It will help to have a daily and weekly structure and routine.
Consistency: Be consistent. Do things the same way each time. It is very hard to learn something new if you are not practicing in the same way each time.
Examples of repetition, structure and consistency:
- If you are learning how to transfer from your bed to the wheelchair: use the same technique each time, and make sure it is done the same way by everyone (consistency and repetition)
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day (consistency, structure)
- Keep your keys, eyeglasses etc. in the same place each time (consistency, repetition)
- Set up a schedule with activities happening at the same time each week, for example swimming Mondays and Wednesdays (consistency, repetition)
- Go through the same steps each time for making breakfast, lunch etc. (repetition, structure, consistency)
It often helps to use compensatory strategies to be safer and more independent. These types of strategies can be used while you are re-learning how to do things for yourself. This will not make you lazy, nor will it stop you from learning to be more independent.
You can stop using the compensatory strategy when you don’t need it any more. Many people find they may use a strategy for a long time, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
People who do not have brain injuries also use compensatory strategies in their daily lives. It makes life simpler. They may use lists, day-timers, or schedules. It would be exhausting trying to remember and keep track of everything without using some type of strategy.
Examples of compensatory strategies:
- A wheelchair for the person who cannot walk
- A day timer or calendar for the person with trouble remembering
- Photos put on the outside of kitchen cupboards showing where things are stored, for the person with poor memory or trouble reading
- A watch showing the date and day of the week, for the person who cannot remember
- A weekly schedule posted on the wall or fridge, for the person who has trouble with organization or remembering a schedule
- A ramp for the person who has trouble going up stairs
- Use of taxis or HandiDART for the person who is unsafe taking the bus
- Reminder lists for the person who has poor memory
Remember that you will need repetition, structure and consistency to learn how to use a compensatory strategy! Also, the simpler the strategy the better.
Guided Breathing for Recovery
Lesley Ewen leads a guided breathing session to aid in recovery from a brain injury. This session is dividing into three parts.