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The Post Rehabilitation Stage: Home Sweet Home
Brain injury survivors have been through a lot with prolonged hospital stays and lengthy rehab programs. However, this is only the beginning of the recovery journey as the survivor and family must take what was taught in the rehabilitation facility and apply it in the real world. The post rehabilitation phase is a time of adjustment as the brain injury survivor reintegrates.
It is often stated life is where real rehab takes place. Since head injured individuals frequently have difficulty learning new information and generalizing new skills from one environment to another, the most effective rehabilitation often occurs in the familiar home setting where previous learning is maximized. Be patient, keep perspective of the limitations these types of injuries can present and understand there will be hurdles along the way. And, recognize precautionary steps can be taken to prevent many issues.
By now, the severity of the brain injury should be understood, either by the survivor or the family, and decisions need to be made so everyone is aware of what to do in the event of an emergency. Having a back-up plan is something every family needs, regardless of whether or not a catastrophic injury has affected their lives. It assures not only the survivor’s safety, but also provides everyone with peace of mind.
Speak with local emergency services. Whether it is the EMS, fire department or the local hospital, let them know what your situation is and they will develop a plan of action in accordance with your needs in the event of an emergency. This reduces the time spent explaining an extensive medical history and ensures your loved one receives fast and efficient attention. The personnel will be prepared with potentially necessary equipment and will already have knowledge of your condition. Just give them a call and ask to speak with a director. These people are here to help and are dedicated the well being of the communities they serve.
Keep an up-to-date medical history notebook with logs of all current meds, all doctor’s names and phone numbers, a medical history, and any medical needs should there be a need for hospitalization (i.e. mattress, turning, bladder care, skin care, etc.) It will allow for peace of mind and can be extremely helpful in an emergency or at various doctor’s appointments.
If you or your loved one requires the use of home medical equipment, such as a wheelchair or ventilator, contact your medical equipment provider and make sure they have a backup readily available in case the original malfunctions. Don’t get caught up in long UPS waits for parts or equipment. A delay is not in your best interest.
It may also be a good idea to consider hiring a Home Health Care Agency or Personal Care Assistant (PCA), at least for the first few months after a brain injury survivor returns home. Having an experienced PCA will help in everyday life and also in times of emergency. It is also nice to have the extra help as not only the survivor, but the family must become acclimated to not having around the clock care like in the hospital. There are several relief programs that can provide financial assistance for Home Health Care or a PCA, which are listed for your reference on our Benefits page.
For more information and options on hiring a PCA, please visit our SCI Post Rehab section. Also, if planning to advertise for a PCA, consider using our Printable PDF Example of PCA ad and Interview Questions
Medications for persons with brain injury are carefully selected, prescribed, and monitored by a physician on an individual basis. The physician or pharmacist can explain a medication’s purpose, side effects and precautions to you. A general explanation of medication groups is described below:
There are many different types of programs that can continue providing the stimulation needed for individuals recovering from traumatic brain injury, as we mentioned in the Brain Injury Rehab section.
However, not all states have such programs. In many instances, this comes down to what third-party payors will support. Regardless of what options are available, it is imperative to create a plan to continue to develop the skills that fall under the brain injury survivor’s strengths at home.
Staying healthy is imperative to brain and bodily functions, regardless of injury. Appropriate quantities of well balanced meals can make a huge difference in the post rehabilitation phase. Proteins, good fats and vitamins nourish the body and mind. The necessity of good food boils down all the way to cell function and ATP production.
Try to avoid the following foods:
Along with a healthy diet, exercise is crucial to the recovery process after a TBI. Researchers are finding that exercise increases blood flow to your brain. More blood to the brain means more nutrition for your brain. Just like good nutrition makes your muscles and your body work better, good nutrition also makes your brain work better.
Note:It is always important to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Alcohol consumption is not recommended following a brain injury. Please consult your physician prior to drinking any amount of alcohol after a brain injury.
Additional information about the risks associated with drinking, how to get help with problems with alcohol and other drug use and abuse may be found in The Brain Injury Association of America Substance Abuse and Brain Injury Booklet.
Sexuality is a concept that deals with more than sexual activity. It also includes how someone feels about themselves as a man or woman and his or her ability to form and maintain intimate relationships. People with TBI want to work productively, live independently and feel a part of their family and community. Sexuality is an important aspect of these goals.
When a person has a TBI, the concept of sexuality is often brushed aside, in part because healthcare providers themselves may be uncomfortable addressing sexuality issues. Caregivers are often providing care that involves intimate activities such as bathing, and the patient has little or no privacy.
Individuals with TBI may have impaired judgment and may be impulsive. It is common that in an environment with impaired cognition, inappropriate sexual comments or behavior occurs. Caregivers should recognize that these actions are an expression of a basic need and should not take these comments personally.
After a person with a TBI leaves the rehabilitation facility, it is important to establish leisure time and social time. Social problems are at the top of the list of problems for individuals with TBI five years after the injury. Friends and family may have drifted away after the injury and through the hospitalizations. It is important for the person with the TBI to re-establish relationships or form a new circle of friends. Relationships are easier to establish in leisure settings.