Intro to TBI

This is the one piece of advice every person visiting this site should take to heart. There is always hope. Do not let anyone take that away from you. Unless and until the person has passed away, there is always hope.

We have met with too many people that have been told that they will never do this or never do that again, yet they are doing all of those things. I spoke with a lady that was pronounced dead at the scene and the ambulance was on the way to the morgue when one of the paramedics noticed she was still alive. We know another young woman who was told she would never walk again who danced at her wedding.

Our daughter is another example. At one point, we were told she had an hour, maybe two to live. We were told she would not get off of the ventilator and never be able to remove her feeding tube. While we are still a long way off from where we hope we end up, we are thrilled that she has proven the doctor’s wrong so far.


They Tend to Be Pessimistic

A trait that seems to be common is that doctors often present a very negative picture to the family early in the process. My hypothesis as to why the doctors seem to be so pessimistic is that it is their attempt to prepare you for the worst in case the worst happens. After all, if the doctor tells you your loved one will never walk again and six months later they do walk, you are not going to be upset with your doctor. However, if they say the patient will walk and then they don’t, you will be upset. The better doctors are able to prepare you for the worst while still leaving your hope and not breaking your spirit. 

Another reason may be that it is a natural reaction for the family to resist the bad news they have been given. The doctors may come across as very blunt, and somewhat pessimistic, in order to break through that defense mechanism from the family.   

We Still Know Very Little About the Brain

A factor that makes projecting the long-term outcome more difficult is that we still really know very little about the brain. It is the least understood organ in the body. A doctor explained it well to us when he said that he can tell us with the CAT scans and MRIs where the brain has been damaged but he can not tell if other areas of the brain will be able to take over some of the tasks previously performed by the damaged area. Recent studies have shown that the brain does indeed exhibit more plasticity than previously thought.

You Only Have One Choice

We think you have to act as if you only have one choice. That choice is to believe and act as if your loved one is going to be completely healed. You need to make sure they get aggressive treatment all along the way and get every opportunity to recover. This way, if the person can do better than the doctors have said, you have given them every chance to prove it. 

But if they don’t progress as much as you would like, at least you will have no regrets. Think of the other side, what if you find that they could do better but you haven’t been trying because someone told you it wouldn’t matter.

I will give you an example from our experience. We transferred our daughter to a new facility after we left the hospital. This facility was going to try to wean her off of the ventilator. A physical therapist came in to do an evaluation and said he was going to get Ashleigh sitting up on the edge of the bed. I said I thought that was a fine goal to shoot for and he said no, I mean tomorrow. 

Here was our daughter on a ventilator, unable to move, we were unsure if she was even aware of anything going on and he is going to sit her up on the edge of the bed? Well, he did and before long they were standing her with a tilt table. My point is we would have never thought she was ready for that kind of activity. So keep challenging yourself and your loved one to move forward as aggressively as possible. Challenge your medical and therapy staff to keep pushing you as well.

The Path

This is the path many patients take on their road to recovery. The main consideration is that each head injury is different and so each recovery is different. Below are the general steps:

  • ER – First, the Emergency Room where they work to stabilize the patient.
  • ICU – Next comes the Intensive Care Unit. Your loved one will stay in the ICU until they move past the immediate danger.
  • Neuro ICU - This is sometimes called a step-down unit. It offers care by neuro-trained nurses who evaluate whether the patient is ready to move to the general neurological floor.
  • Neuro floor - The general Neurological floor is staffed by specially trained staff to help your patient recover and prepare to go home.
  • Rehab Unit - Intensive therapy to help the patients maximize their abilities and develop compensation techniques for any remaining deficiencies.
  • Home – Back home where they will continue on the long hard road to recovery.