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Progress and Plateaus After Brain Injury Progress and Plateaus After Brain Injury

Comments [10]

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[Abby Maslin, Caregiver, Wife, Mother, and Teacher] I think one thing we had been told at the beginning of recovery is that we were going to hit a lot of plateaus, and so I was preparing myself for the days where TC just wasn't making progress. But it kind of took a very interesting evolution— during the hospital stage of TC's recovery, he was in really bad shape, and I think looking at it retrospectively, a lot of that was just being in the hospital, and the hospital is not a place to get better—it's not. So, when TC was able to leave the hospital, he made just enormous progress really rapidly. There were days where it felt slow, but I also knew enough at that point that slow was better than nothing, and that I wasn't going to see a miraculous evolution. He wasn't just going to jump out of bed one day and be okay, and so, I accepted that pretty early on. That said, we didn't really hit a plateau, I think, until we got to the end of year one—TC's made really steady progress. When we hit a plateau was when we came back to live in D.C. after the end of the first year, and we knew we were jumping into what was going to look a lot like our old lives— I was going to go back to work; for TC, it was going to look different— he was going to stay home and take care of Jack a few days of the week and do therapy during the rest of his time. Because it looked so strangely like our old life, I think we both expected that it would— the progress would just catch up with us, that the recovery would catch up with where we had made it into our lives, and so we could jump back into our old lives and TC would speak a lot better, but that didn't happen. We came back and it was still really hard, and we were like, "Wait a minute. We thought this was just going to be like our old life again." And it took several months for us to say, "We're here, and it looks similar, but it's not the same, and the recovery is still happening." It's very slow—it's very slow, and just because you switch locations doesn't mean it's going to speed up. I think a lot of gauging TC's progress has been our own perspective on it— just really trying to keep our expectations manageable and notice the really small indicators of progress, like TC being able to walk to the grocery store and get the correct groceries—the groceries we've asked for— and then bring them home—that's huge. That is huge. If I look back and I think about those days where I had to go to the grocery store alone 'cause I would have been pushing a wheelchair, and it was just easier to get a babysitter for my husband, that's enormous progress, and that's only been a year. It really is incredible, but you do have to take yourself out of the moment and step back and look at the trajectory because if you don't, it will feel like, I think Lee Woodruff said, it feels like watching paint dry—it really does. So, you have to step back once in a while and examine the whole picture.

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Caregiver Abby Maslin talks about the ebbs and flows of her husband's progress after his severe brain injury.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Christian Lindstrom, BrainLine.

Comments [10]

Thanks Abby, I work with a lot of people with brain injuries with neurofeedback and one thing that's hard is that we all think linearly but the brain changes in a non-linear fashion.  So we're all expecting a slow progression towards "better" but actually sometimes changes can be sudden or there can be a regression, then progress.  And that's how the brain improves--in a non-linear way! Keep going!  Natalie Baker, NYC

Oct 31st, 2015 6:24pm

Thank you for sharing! 

Sep 18th, 2014 9:26am

You simply need to understand the full extent of your injury. That, without the proper assistance, is a lot harder then you think. After that just settle into your new "life"...

Sep 17th, 2014 8:05pm

I am a 26 year old high functioning TBI, I think I had major improvement 15 years post when given Ritalin by my new neurologist.  I can not even begin to tell you how my world opened up, I was reading books (I can tell you all about TBI from the Textbook perspective), making lists, and following thru on things.  I think new problems have arisen, but that's a part of TBI-it's a lifelong condition.

Sep 17th, 2014 12:51pm

A very inspiring message,I had a brain hemorrhage almost 15 yrs ago, I get down but, I just remind myself of what coulda been and I become very GREATFUL.

Jul 8th, 2014 5:48pm

You teach me vital lessons. Thank you so much for being amazing. Sending love to you, TC, & the kids. 

Jul 2nd, 2014 1:24pm

Keep your head up. One day at a time, one step at a time. Big hugs to you!

Jul 1st, 2014 4:19pm

I try not to feel trapped. When I start to feel completely overwhelmed, like the situation is impossible, I realize I'm trapped in my negative feelings which is not reality. I take a deep breath, pray, talk to a friend, sit in the back yard, or something to shift my focus and feel some relief from the pressure. Being grateful usually does the trick too.

Jul 1st, 2014 12:01pm

Abby, I want to say thanks for TC. Because I am marrying a woman just like you. Now I feel like the luckiest, smartest, and happiest person who ever experienced TBI.

Jul 1st, 2014 9:50am

Thank you Abby, for taking the time to do this. Yes it is hard, and yes we fall and yes we get frustrated and I like how you say we have to step back... Keep up the good work! 

May 27th, 2014 8:58pm


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