Brain Injury and Setting Family-Centered Goals

This neuropsychologist shares his experience and advice about culture, ethnicity, and brain injury rehab.

It's important to be family-centered when you're setting goals for somebody who has had a traumatic brain injury because, while it's important to do that for anybody with a significant illness, in that the family is going to be involved in one way or another, with how the person copes perhaps with aspects of the treatment. Even if it's not a brain injury, they may have a change in diet or in exercise or what they can and can't do, and the family is going to be able to make that easier or harder to the extent that they understand it. And they're going to have some ideas of where that fits in. That's double or triple when it comes to traumatic brain injury, because not only is it a matter of the routines of the household and the way you interrelate and the risks and so on, but with any significant brain injury, the person with the injury has changed in their ability to do things, their ability to understand and make good choices and decisions and take responsibility. They may no longer be fully responsible for their own choices, or at least temporarily, during the course of their rehabilitation. The family may need to be taking over significant functions for them. A family will do that anyhow, when they observe that there are problems going on, but it's better if they're involved with the team, so that they can collaboratively arrange a way to do that that respects the autonomy and dignity of the person with the brain injury, that moves them along towards recovery, so that they're not holding them back by doing everything for them, but rather that they're letting them do what they can do, but making sure they're safe and doing it in a way that doesn't create problems for people. And so what you want to do is to develop goals, develop a direction to go that is going to be meaningful for the person and for their family and is going to fit and work.
Posted on BrainLine April 29, 2009.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King, BrainLine.