A guide to rehabilitation after a brain injury
This section talks about what rehabilitation is, and what it hopes to achieve.One of the definitions of ‘rehabilitate’ in The Oxford English Dictionary is: “to restore someone back to health through training and therapy”.1 Although this is a good place to start, it is rarely quite this simple with acquired brain injury. Recovery may go on for many years, and many children are affected by their brain injury for the rest of their lives.2 The sheer complexity of the brain means the process of restoring a child back to health after an acquired brain injury is rarely a simple one.3 The aim of rehabilitation is to give children their very best chances at making improvements through different therapies or treatments. It aims to give children and young people as much independence as possible4, and to work on skills they may be struggling with.5 It may be an uncertain time for parents, but in all the uncertainty there is also great possibility. The experts may not be able to guarantee the level of recovery, but neither can they rule out the dramatic improvements many families have witnessed.6 Rehabilitation might take place in a number of settings:
- Services at the hospital – some hospitals may offer therapies such as physiotherapy or speech and language therapy. This is sometimes called ‘inpatient rehabilitation’.
- A specialist rehabilitation centre – a dedicated centre may have a multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation. This is where there are many different therapies and treatments. This might be residential, where the child lives at the centre.
- Community services – specialists provide therapy at your child’s home, at a local centre or even at school.
We had lots of meetings. Meetings about rehabilitation, meetings about school ... it can be hard to see people you don’t know making decisions about your child’s life.."Parent's experience
While we wouldn’t presume to speak for every service at a detailed level, there are some broad aims that are common to rehabilitation:
What rehabilitation hopes to achieve
- Getting back some of the everyday skills lost after the injury (and in many cases learning new ways of doing them).
- Supporting children in doing these everyday tasks through strategies.4
- Equipping a child for getting back out into their community.5
- Allowing a child to live as independently as possible.4
- Improving emotional wellbeing.8
- Enabling a child to accept who they are after their injury.9
Outings and visits played a really important part in Michael’s recovery. He’d always been an extrovert, and the social side of things was really good for him."Parent's experience