What are some brain injury recovery statistics, and what percentage of TBI patients will make a good recovery?
This is a very understandable question. It’s natural to want to know what your odds of making a full recovery are.
We will take a look at some brain injury recovery statistics in a moment, but first we want to emphasize that statistics are not always accurate or even helpful.
In fact, your odds of recovery are often much higher than many medical predictions might lead you to believe.
That’s why in this article, we are not just going to show you dull brain injury recovery statistics, we are also going to give you some tips that will help you beat the odds and achieve your fullest recovery possible!
Brain Injury Recovery Statistics
To answer the initial question about a person’s odds of recovery, we’ll start this article out with some statistics about brain injury recovery.
Again, it’s important to remember these statistics are not necessarily indicative of your own recovery process.
In general though, the more severe a brain injury is, the less likely it is that the person will make a good recovery.
According to one comprehensive study of 189 patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 3 or less, only 13% achieved a good functional outcome after six months.
While we know this must sound deeply unfortunate at first, keep in mind two things.
- These patients had one of the most severe brain injuries possible. A GCS score of 3 points means they had almost no brain activity whatsoever. The fact that 13% made a good recovery after having no function at all is actually pretty amazing, and just goes to show that recovery is always possible!
- The study only followed the patients for six months. Every person’s brain injury recovery journey is unique, and not everyone progresses at the same rate. It’s very possible that those people who had not achieved a good recovery at the sixth month mark achieved it after one year, or even five years.
In fact, in a separate study that followed severe TBI patients for four years, at the end of the study 28% had achieved a good recovery, and 79% were living independently with only minimal assistance.
These are just the statistics for people with severe TBIs. For those with moderate or mild TBI, the odds are even higher. That is, of course, as long as you follow the right steps.
We will look at what you need to do to increase your chances of making a good brain injury recovery next.
How to Increase Your Chances of Making a Full Brain Injury Recovery
Even though not all the statistics on brain injuries are negative, it can still feel quite depressing to look at some of these stats.
After all, 28% achieving a good recovery is not that high of a percentage. You might feel that the odds are still pretty stacked against you.
This is why we believe that focusing on generalizations or percentages is ultimately unhelpful for brain injury recovery.
Instead, it’s more productive to focus on maximizing your own recovery!
How do you do this? Here are some suggestions.
Step #1. Focus on the Positive
Don’t look at yourself as just another statistic. This leads to limiting beliefs which worm their way deep into your subconscious and keep you from reaching your full potential.
The worst part about limiting beliefs is how they lead to self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.
For example, if you have been told by your doctor that you are not likely to ever walk again, this might cause you to think it is useless to continue with therapy. As a result, you stop exercising, you lose more strength, and you stop seeing results.
This leads to a downward spiral where the lack of improvement reinforces your idea that therapy is useless, and lack of therapy ends up worsening your condition.
So how do we stop this from happening? And what do you do when your doctor is the one telling you that you will never fully recover?
Well, with all due respect to your doctor, this is the one time you should really ignore their words.
In every other instance, you should follow your doctor’s advice. Unfortunately, when it comes to predicting recovery outcomes, most will err on the side of caution and try to prepare you for the worst-case scenario. But as you now know, negative beliefs only lead to limitations.
That’s why as cliché as it might sound, the best thing you can do to maximize your brain injury recovery is to tune out the negativity, and believe you will make a full recovery.
This is because a positive belief has the exact opposite effect on the subconscious mind as limiting beliefs and will give you the boost of motivation you need to recover from brain injury!
Step #2. Engage Neuroplasticity
If you want to increase your chances of making a full recovery from brain injury, one of the best things you can do is engage your brain’s neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the mechanism your brain uses to form new neural pathways that allow healthy portion of your brain to take over functions from damaged areas.
The best way to activate neuroplasticity is through massed practice exercises. Basically, what you’re going to need to do is repeatedly practice an action that you want to regain.
As you practice, those new neural pathways will be reinforced and the action will become much easier.
Neuroplasticity is the reason many brain injury patients are able to defy the odds and shock their doctors by regaining abilities that they thought were permanently lost!
Step #3. Watch Out for “Bad Plasticity”
Neuroplasticity is a great mechanism for regaining abilities, but it also has a downside you’ll need to be careful of during recovery, which neuroscientists call maladaptive plasticity.
As we said above, if you want to help your brain relearn an activity, you’re going to have to do a lot of practice.
Unfortunately, sometimes what happens is you can teach your brain to do an action the wrong way.
For example, if you can’t move your right hand to pick up a cup, you might start using your left hand instead. These are called compensatory tactics, and they are sometimes necessary, especially in the early days of recovery.
However, if you continue to use them, eventually your brain will “forget” how to do the action the right way, and you risk losing the ability entirely.
To avoid this, you’ll want to focus on using restorative techniques. This just means restoring the ability to perform an action the way you used to before your injury.
So, if your right hand is weak, try to resist the urge to do everything with your left hand.
The more you exercise your right hand, the easier it will get to use it. That’s the magic of neuroplasticity!
Step #4. Stimulate Your Brain
In addition to repetitive exercise, you should focus on stimulating your brain through puzzles, cognitive exercises, and art and music therapy.
The more your brain is stimulated, the more neurons are fired, which increases the production of certain neurotrophic growth factors such as BDNF.
These growth factors aid in the process of neurogenesis which actually helps your brain create new nerve cells.
So don’t forget to keep your brain active! It will make your recovery go much smoother.
Brain Injury Recovery Statistics: Conclusion
In the end, if this article has shown you anything, we hope it is this:
No matter what the brain injury recovery statistics might say, achieving a full recovery is always possible.
Every day we hear stories of brain injury patients surprising their doctors with their achievements. And in every single case, these people were the ones who ignored negative predictions and persevered through overwhelming odds.
There’s no reason why that can’t be your story as well.
Don’t put all your attention on percentages. Just focus on what you want to achieve, and never give up.
You might just surprise yourself with what you accomplish.