Brain Injury Rehabilitation Requires Full Spectrum Treatment

Brain Injury Treatment Can Last a Lifetime

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Brain injury rehabilitation is a complex process that requires treatment for every factor of the disability including physical, behavioral, cognitive and mood disorders. Brain injury professionals have done a good job of treating severe brain injury in the time immediately following the injury, the acute and sub-acute stages. Yet the care following the initial symptoms is sub-par for the patients with severe brain injury and virtually almost totally absent with those with mild or moderate brain injury. Brain injury rehabilitation need not halt a few weeks after the brain damage regardless of what the insurance companies want the medical providers to believe.

Recovery from brain injury is a long struggle of reteaching the brain to do the activities that it was doing prior to the brain injury in real time. It took almost twenty years to learn to be an adult the first time. The complicated issues of executive dysfunction, memory, mood and depression can’t be expected to magically cure themselves within six months of the injury.

A brain injury rehabilitation program that fails to look at each and every main category of disability, will have only piecemeal results. A successful program must give in addition to cognitive training and physical therapy a plan to take care of depression and mood disorders. All brain injury recovery plans must be made with the obstacles the brain injury patient faces in mind. A brain injury recovery program that does not address all categories of flaws, particularly frontal lobe dysfunction, is predestined to not be successful. For example, deficits in initiating and following through with things can’t be solved by a program that doesn’t assist the brain injury survivor in both starting things and getting them done.

Brain injury rehabilitation for me has been a lifetime of recovery. I didn’t get brain injury rehabilitation, because I was never officially diagnosed with a brain injury, even though I was unconscious for nearly thirty minutes. Yet, I coincidentally got the benefits of an elegant rehabilitation plan when I went to law school. Furthermore, I was a skilled athlete both before and after my car accident, so I was blessed with the benefit of aerobic exercise before anyone identified that this could help with recovery.

What I didn’t get was help with mood. I lived through six months of the darkest time, with behavioral extremes driving away loved ones and friends. It was only when I accidentally rediscovered hope, that the mood issues stopped controlling my life.

All survivors need a goal. With frontal lobe deficits, the more concrete the goal, the better. My concrete goal was law school. That gave me the motivation to start pushing the rock back up the hill. In the process, my cognitive function came back to near pre-injury levels and behavioral problems started to even out.

Am I cured? No, but each day I try to make my recovery better than the day before. I can’t stop pushing upward, as I can still feel the momentum pulling me the other direction. Helping you helps me which I hope helps all of us.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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