Never Settle for What's "Supposed to Be"

A brain injury is not "supposed to be," nor is the trajectory for recovery, says Hospital Executive Amy Mansue. "In rehab, we help kids with TBI reach their maximum potentional not only when they are 7 but also when they're 70 ... "

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[Amy Mansue] There is a common belief that if you've suffered a traumatic brain injury that first 12 months are the only things that matter; if they don't achieve it and it's not better in that 12-month window that you can basically forget it. When I look at Michael, and I think of where he was at 12 months, and I see where he is today, that is so not the case. If you had stopped the clock at that 12 months and said, "Okay—you didn't make the benefits we thought you were going to make, and so we're not going to provide any more therapy," he wouldn't be nearly as independent as he is today. And as the child grows and becomes older, it is more and more important for him to become more and more independent or as independent as possible—even the transfer skills— being able to walk with the walker or care for himself—his activities of daily living— those are so important not when he's 60 pounds, but when he's 150 pounds— when he's 180 pounds—that's going to really, really matter. So you can't get locked into a clear medical book of, "Okay—this is what's supposed to happen, and it didn't. So now we're not going to do it anymore." For us—at Children's Specialized—it's always about making sure that child reaches their maximum potential and giving them whatever level of independence they can have. So—if it's feeding themselves then that's the independence that's going to be important— not necessarily when they're seven, but when they're 70. It's a whole different ball game, and so I think that you can't stop. And you can't stop trying. And often—you know—children will plateau with a traumatic brain injury and just sort of level out. But there will be something that will spark, and you'll see them making progress again, and that's when you need to intervene right away and get that therapy back up to where it was before. And then you'll make more progress. It's not unlike each of us—right? We achieve things—you know—whether it's losing weight or— you know—going to school or doing things, and then you'll level out for a while. And then you're going to need to do it again; it's the same process. And it's really important not to fall into the wives tales—if you will— about what's supposed to be because you know what? None of this is supposed to be; nobody is supposed to have a traumatic brain injury. And so each one you have to make sure that you're open to what's possible and what the hope can bring you and what the clinical skills can bring you and what the support of that family unit can bring. And that's what defines success. That's how you figure out how much more to do.
Posted on BrainLine August 8, 2013.

Produced by Sharon Ladin, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.