Developing Goals for Rehabilitation after Traumatic Brain Injury


What Happens During Rehab for a Brain Injury?

After a traumatic brain injury, developing goals in a rehabilitative setting can feel like a daunting task. You might wonder if you will ever get back to your “normal” self and may even have trouble remembering exactly who you were before your accident or injury.

There are a number of physical and mental health issues that should be addressed during the rehabilitation phase:

  • Language and speech therapy
  • Swallowing ability
  • Coordination and motor skills
  • Strength
  • Social skills
  • Social support
  • Bladder and bowel control
  • Psychology/psychiatry treatment

Your rehabilitation team can and will help you find a place to start. Whether it’s your physician, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, kinesiotherapist, or any other team member, these are professionals whose careers are dedicated to helping people return to their prior level of functioning.

Short-Term & Long-Term Rehab Goals

There are two kinds of goals a person sets in a rehabilitative setting: short-term goals and long-term goals. A short-term goal is written with specific criteria and should be met inside of a few weeks or month at the most. A long-term goal is more general than a short-term goal and is meant to be met after a month or even a few months’ time, usually when the person is discharged from his rehabilitation stay.

Examples of short-term and long-term goals can include:

  • Long-term goal: This person may have a long-term goal of returning to taking long walks as a leisure activity after rehab is complete.
    • Short-term goal: To address leg weakness, a short-term goal can be to lift a certain weight with their legs in three weeks with regular physical therapy.
  • Long-term goal: You may want to eventually be able to walk to a coffee shop by yourself and order a drink.
    • Short-term goal: You can work towards this goal by doing the walk with the help of a caregiver and practicing the words needed to order.
  • Long-term goal:​ Your goal could be to be able to speak with a loved one on the phone for 10 minutes.
    • Short-term goal: You can practice speech and word exercises to help you become familiar with vocabulary and words used to express yourself.

These kinds of goals can be written for many different activities of daily living including physical activity, speech, language, fine motor skills, attention, memory, decision-making and even sleep.

Compensatory Strategies for Brain Injury Rehab

While you work toward your individual goals, it is important for you to explore using compensatory strategies. Compensatory strategies can improve your performance and help you meet your goals faster as you gradually return to your prior level of functioning.

Compensatory strategies can be either environmental modifications or a minor change in behavior. An example can include:

  • Perhaps you have a long-term goal of getting back to your office job, and want to improve your memory and attention in order to manage a revolving task list and schedule.
    • A compensatory strategy to explore could include using technology such as an app on your phone, a calendar with set details including reminders, alarms, and alerts, or even low-tech strategies such as writing detailed lists on a daily basis to help you manage your duties at the office.

Compensatory strategies should be personalized as much as possible and trialed by the person to ensure they are feasible and practical. Your physician and therapists can help you explore using compensatory strategies appropriate for your individual goals and current level of functioning.

Seek Support from Loved Ones

Lastly, as you set your goals in a rehabilitative setting, don’t be afraid to consult with your family and friends. They know you well and can help you fill in missing pieces as you work toward a full recovery. These people may even attend your individual therapy sessions and tell your rehab team about your personality and what other people in your life may expect from you once you leave rehab. Your road to recovery will likely be enhanced and accelerated with the input of your friends and family working together with your rehab team.

For questions and further information, please contact Scarlett Law Group.

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