Helping People with TBI Redefine Independence

Dr. Herman Lukow talks about helping people celebrate their small successes, like being able to get involved in an activity they like or riding the bus to town, even if these events were far different from their pre-injury definitions of success.

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[Dr. Herman Lukow II] I've had a number of clients that have been in very responsible positions that after they sustained their brain injuries were not able to do any type of paid employment. Couldn't really do much around the house, as well. This has to do with those flexible definitions of success again. One of our starting points after introducing the survivor and processing the actual effects of the injury. But a number of those clients I worked with—very high-powered—weren't able to work again— we could talk about redefining what independence meant. Some it works. Some it doesn't. For example, taking joy out of knowing— "Okay, I'm not going to be able to drive again. At least not soon." Let's keep focused—one thing—let's keep focused right here. "I'm not going to be driving. I'm not going to be driving soon." It's through processing they realize— "But I can still go anywhere I want. It's just I need someone to go with me or to drive me." In some cases, may or may not be able to take a bus. But it's celebrating those little successes and framing it—okay—well what are the things you want to do? What are the activities you'd like to be involved with? Well, I'd like to hear about which of those activities you got to do next time we meet, and that's kind of setting up the success. It wasn't difficult. It wasn't difficult finding someone to get a ride. Maybe it was difficult, but the success comes when they realize— "Okay, I can still get to where I need to go. I just need to ask someone."
Posted on BrainLine September 18, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.