Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TBI Rehabilitation: Hitting the Wall

Neurorehabilitation is the best treatment after a brain injury. This rehabilitation is a comprehensive and holistic approach to create new pathways in the brain and heal the aftermath of this type of injury. It includes speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nurses, social workers and psychologists. Cognition problems are prevalent among TBI survivors. In rehab they'll teach new ways of thinking and how to compensate for the loss. Balance problems are addressed by physical therapy. Any behavioral issues, i.e. frustration, sadness, depression etc are addressed by the social worker or psychologist.
During the first few months of rehabilitation we experience big improvements in almost all areas. Then the improvement rate starts to slow down. In my experience here is where the lingering effects become noticeable. The process slows down but there is improvement happening. I'm at the stage that I don't see improvement. After 12 months of rehabilitation I think I'm probably reaching my optimum benefit from therapy. I still have many issues that are obvious but I don't see significant changes happening. I've been thinking: maybe this is it, I'm ready to go on my own. There is an underlying frustration that may be there forever, I don't know.
I am happy with my progress. If this is the card that life played me then I'll make the best game possible with it. Looking to my left and right I can say that I'm lucky. It all could've been worse, I could've died. Instead here I am writing to you. That alone is a blessing that some BI survivors don't have. I count my blessings and they outnumber my problems or issues by far.
May I be hitting the wall? Am I as recovered as I'll be? I don't know. There is only one way to find out and that is keep moving forward without looking back.
If you feel like leaving a comment, please do so and share you experience. Did you hit the wall?

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®


  1. Victor Victor Victor, You will always improve in small ways. You could see the really big changes, but small ones will always happen. Just give yourself a break. You have come along so fast, as I did. Some will never get to the place we have gotten to. We are very blessed! But small changes will happen all the time. Others will notice when they haven't seen you for awhile. We are strong willed and determine. We don't just sit and wait for something to happen. We make it happen! And we all get on the pitty pot sometimes, but when it is time to start moving again, you will. I have no doubt of that. Cheer up my friend. Remembe a smart man always says, IT WILL GET BETTER!!!!

  2. Hi....I'm one of your new followers on Twitter, Mabvet!! I'm a small animal veterinarian and confuse a lot of veterans with my username. What a journey you've had and I can't imagine the frustration that you and your wife have gone through in getting the proper treatment. I was interested in whether or not acupuncture has been beneficial to you in your rehabilitation. I'm just starting to practice it on dogs and cats and have had some successes with it so far, particularly in animals that have run out of options with traditional western medicine. I've witnessed its success in dogs with certain types of vertebral disc disease among other maladies. Just curious. Ditto what Lee said! It's clear you are a very strong person with a will to live, love and laugh. Persevere, you won't be disappointed! Again, thank you for your service, you are in my prayers!! @mabvet

  3. Hi Victor, I am a long-term surivivor (1990 auto accident): I was a DoD civilian Nat'l Secuity Agency (NSA) employee at that time. As TBI survivors, when it seems we "hit-a-wall," some sort of END-point -- and can't detect improvement any longer -- that is one of those "consolidation" periods where the brain is strengthening itself, grouping and organizing ways-of-connecting in healing.

    This is interesting timing to be writing to you now. Actually, LAST NIGHT I had a profound sense of wellness -- I strangely "felt-more-solid" cognitively (awareness-wise) than I have felt in over twenty years.
    Victor, my sense-of-self was somehow more whole, more complete. For several hours, I felt as though I had "my identity" back. And for those hours, I was truly hopeful for myself (as far as re-discovering what has been lost for so many years). Healing?" I believe so.
    Today, I have not retained that feeling I had last night...but SOMETHING good & productive is going on in my head! Our bodies are natural healing machines.

    And we will walk on.

    All the best to you,
    Scott Cole

  4. After only 12 months of rehab, you are just beginning. Seriously. Yes, the most dramatic changes have already happened the quickest with no special effort, but you are no where near through. The brain takes YEARS to repair itself and will keep doing so as long as you keep providing the stimulation.

    Neuroplastic changes happen until the day you die. It is up to you to harness and direct them.

    My experience has been, when you hit a plateau, it is time to add something new to the mix...acupuncture, brain optimization, music therapy. Keep exploring. Keep adding new things and your brain will respond in new ways.

    I am three and a half years post injury, and I will saw the most improvement in my speech in the past 6 months other than the first six months because I tried a bunch of new therapies.

    If you want different results you have to do something different.

  5. I am eight and a half months post injury. I had been improving and since the beginning of March I started to relapse. The relapse has gotten significantly worse and I am back to the horrific headaches that I had when I had to take a leave of absence from work, but am still working. I am of the same mindset as you are...keep pushing through and trying new things. I had physical therapy for 6 months, acupuncture for8 months that I still go to, am in speech therapy which I started in March, psychotherapy for the emotional and personality changes due to frontal lobe damage, and pilates since there has been proof that it helps with neurological healing and i am still unable to get back to my normal routine of running and biking.

    How have you handled a relapse? A plateau is one thing, but a relapse is completely disheartening. I keep telling myself that the headaches are back with a vengence, but I am sleeping again and my speech is improving and so is my hearing. Any advice would be helpful because I really am at the end of my rope. My doctors had said I would be fully recovered within a year of the injury, but two weeks ago today I was in the ER with the worst headache I ever had because I could not take the pain.

    My friends and family are very supportive, but they do no understand what it is like to be going through this. Any words of advice are most welcome.