Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Key #5: Education and Awareness

Education and awareness plays a big role on a successful recovery and rehabilitation. For those of us that suffered the so called "mild" Traumatic Brain Injury it is our responsibility to get educated. I did this once I understood the "lack of initiative" issue. As I accepted this issue I worked to get over it. Even though this is a present issue for other things, I was the one, along with my wife Roxana, that became education hungry. My wife started reading books to me, we started watching videos, and seeking knowledge through my providers and the internet. Sometimes I had to network with people that have nothing to do with the military. All this together gave me a general knowledge about Traumatic Brain Injury. When I was wounded I had absolutely no idea what TBI was.
Seeking information helped me understand the causes of what I was and still experiencing. Brain Injuries brings with it some cognitive impairments but that is not an excuse for somebody not to learn. You have to find what works for you in terms of receiving education. There are so many ways to get educated. If you have a reading and comprehension problem then use videos or audio versions of the books, sometime you can even find video lectures online. Remember when you become educated on your condition you will get answers to many of your questions.
As you may know with this type of injury comes an emotional side effect. An emotional effect that many times could be mistaken for PTSD, but many of the emotional issues I have faced are non combat related, the symptoms are more related to the effect of Traumatic Brain Injury, symptoms that are caused by the fact that I try to be how I was and I can't, I try to do the executive skill like I use to and I can't, try to exercise the way I use to and I can't, among others like grieving, loss, and "mourn". Through education on my condition I learned about this and understanding the symptoms created coping strategies, and relieved most of them. I learned that I'm not alone and that is common to feel an emotional effect after a BI.
Many other frustrations where relieved after learning about BI. I read and was taught by my providers about other TBI problems. For example, Jimmy and Tessa, my physical therapists, explained in detail why balance, motor skills and coordination get affected. My speech therapist, Claudia and Vanessa explained to me why and how my speech fluency was affected along with the cognitive areas like concentration and attention. Dr. (COL) Richard Petri and Eric Spier, my physiatrists, explained to me the overall impact of the injury and they explained what to expect after the injury.
Putting older post together it show how the support network ties with education. In part is the providers responsibility to educate the patients, but do not forget that you are in control of your own rehab. Take initiative and learn about traumatic brain injury regardless of the means you use. Many times providers are blamed for the recovery failures but as you are a crucial part of your recovery, don't make the mistake of failing yourself.
Learn: Empowerment comes with knowledge, only you hold that key.

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