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A brain injury is a pretty tough injury
to come back from and be 100%,
and at some point people realize that their lives are going to be different,
and that's a very, very painful point, and all the literature
in my experience says that it's a point
where people recognize their loss.
Maybe you could say that the ambiguity in that loss is gone.
It resolves, and that's very therapeutic.
People need to get to the point--and it's important to let
people improve as much as they can.
I'm not suggesting otherwise.
But at some point people's abilities and skills
and medical issues, they're not going to get much better.
It could be 8 years later, but at some point it usually comes for people,
and it's important at that point to recognize
that's when the ambiguity is gone, where the person has tried
and they've had difficulty and they've relearned what they can do
and what they shouldn't do and that when the ambiguity resolves
then they can grieve, and it was interesting because I just listened
to a talk by Rosemary Rawlins.
She wrote the book "Learning by Accident,"
and what Rosemary said was it was painful to hear the results
of the evaluation, but I was almost surprised
because she said, "I was very thankful because there were things
that my husband was having trouble with that I didn't realize."
"But what the evaluation helped me to do was to fully understand
how he was different, what he could do, and what might be a challenge."
And she said, "Having that understanding freed me up to grieve,
and while grieving was difficult, it enabled me to move forward."
And it was so interesting to hear her talk about that because
it was a very painful experience but because of her character
and her husband's character--they're smart people.
They're hardworking people.
They recognized the pain.
They learned from the pain.
They experienced the pain, but they moved forward,
and that helped me as a clinician when I heard her speak,
and I've known her for probably 8 or 9 years.
When I heard her speak it helped me to better understand
the experience that people have when they begin to learn
that they're not able to do things that they used to be able to do.
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Although it is painful for a person with TBI and his family to recognize what has been lost from the injury, that understanding also frees them to grieve and move forward.
Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Ashley Gilleland, BrainLine.
Jeffrey Kreutzer, PhD,
Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, PhD, ABPP, is the Rosa Schwarz Cifu Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Medical College of Virginia Campus. There, he is also a professor of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Dr. Kreutzer serves as director of Virginia's federally designated Traumatic Brain Injury Model System and coordinates VCU Health System outpatient services for families and persons with brain injury.
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