The injured person
Information about the person’s current level of cognitive and behaviour functioning is essential to develop a realistic program. Specific information is needed on factors such as:
- how much can be learnt,
- what is the best way to learn,
- what activities are most likely to present problems,
- what limitations there may be perceptually,
- how the environment be set up to maximise abilities.
The rehabilitation program must also take physical limitations into account. In addition to general information about the person’s medical status and physical abilities, thorough evaluation of both visual and auditory systems should be completed. Management of medical needs must be an integral part of the rehabilitation program. Adaptive equipment such as a wheelchair, braces, and communication devices, must be appropriate to the person’s current needs and in good repair.
The support system
Family members must realistically determine how much time, money and emotional energy they can commit, and for how long. This includes consideration of who will provide transportation to activities, supervision in both the home and the community, and what materials will be needed. An organised program requires the effort of more than one person – unless it is undertaken in extremely small and manageable steps.
This is definitely the time to start ringing around. A wide range of community services are available in most communities and are appropriate for people who have sustained brain injuries. Most of these agencies do not advertise; many are not aware of the special needs of those who sustain brain injuries and how their agency’s services might be used by this population. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to approach these community services for assistance.