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Brain Damage Recovery Chances: How to Maximize the Odds of a Good Recovery

therapist in hospital room showing patient how to improve his brain injury recovery chances

What are a person’s chances of making a good recovery from brain damage?

Every brain injury is unique, which makes it difficult to predict any particular person’s recovery.

However, even in severe cases, there is always a chance to recover from TBI.

That’s why, in addition to sharing some statistics for moderate to severe brain injury recovery, this article will also show you strategies to improve your recovery chances.

Brain Damage Recovery Chances

A person’s chances of a good recovery from TBI depend heavily on the severity of their injury.

Generally, the more severe the brain damage is, the less likely it is that the patient will make a functional recovery.

According to one comprehensive study of 189 patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 3, only 13% achieved a good functional outcome after six months.

While this may sound discouraging at first, keep in mind two things:

  • These patients had the most severe brain injury possible. A GCS score of 3 points means there was almost no brain activity at the time of injury. The fact that 13% made a good recovery after having no function at all is incredible and demonstrates that recovery is always possible.
  • The study only followed the patients for six months. Not everyone progresses in their recovery at the same rate. It’s possible that those people who had not achieved a good recovery at the sixth-month mark achieved it one year later, or even five years later.

In fact, in a separate study that followed severe TBI patients for four years, at the end of the study, 28% had achieved a full recovery, and 79% were living independently with only minimal assistance.

More Statistics on Brain Injury Recovery

Other sources show slightly better odds. According to statistics gathered from the TBI Model System Program, at two years post-injury:

  • 30% of moderate to severe brain damage patients need at least some assistance from another person. 70% live alone full-time.
  • Over 90% live in a private residence.
  • 50% of patients learn how to drive after brain injury, though there may still be restrictions on driving at night or for long distances.
  • 30% have a job, though it’s usually different from what they had before their injury.

These statistics are for moderate to severe diffuse brain injuries, where multiple areas of the brain are affected.

For those with focal or penetrating head injuries, such as gunshot wounds, the chances of a good recovery are even higher. That’s because the damage is usually limited to one area.

Factors that Influence Recovery Chances

Besides the severity of the injury, there are three main factors that doctors look at to predict brain damage recovery chances:

  • Duration of coma. The less time a patient is in a coma after brain injury, the better their chances of a good recovery.
  • Post-traumatic amnesia. When the person emerges from a coma, they go through a period of amnesia and confusion. Sometimes this period only lasts a few hours, but sometimes it lasts days or even weeks. The shorter the amnesia lasts, the better the prognosis.
  • Age. In general, TBI patients over the age of 60 or under the age of two have the worst recovery chances.

Now that you know the statistics and factors that affect recovery, it is time to look at some strategies that will boost your recovery chances.

How to Increase Your Brain Damage Recovery Chances

Wooden cube with word "Change & Chance" concept on yellow background

©iStock/eternalcreative

The best way to beat the odds and improve your brain damage recovery chances is to focus on maximizing your recovery.

The following are three strategies to help you accomplish this.

1. Activate Neuroplasticity

If you want to increase your chances of making a full recovery from brain injury, you must engage your brain’s neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the mechanism your brain uses to form new neural pathways after injury. These allow healthy portions of your brain to take over functions from damaged areas.

The best way to activate neuroplasticity is through massed practice exercises.  This means you must repeatedly practice an activity that you want to regain.

Neuroplasticity is the reason many brain injury patients regain abilities they thought were permanently lost.

2. Do At-Home Physical Therapy

home therapy increases brain injury recovery chances

Physical therapy is an effective way to activate neuroplasticity and regain abilities. It helps patients rebuild physical strength, coordination, and flexibility after TBI. Plus, it increases blood flow to the brain, giving it the nutrients it needs to function and heal.

Unfortunately, going to therapy appointments only once or twice a week will not get you very many results.

That’s why, to boost your recovery chances, you must practice at home every day the exercises you learn at the clinic.

To do this, your therapist can write you a home exercise sheet to help you remember all your exercises.

There are also home therapy devices, such as FitMi, which help walk you through exercises and stay motivated in a way that hand-out sheets do not.

Practicing your exercises at home every day will keep your brain stimulated, which will increase your chances of a full recovery. 

3. Stay Positive

iStock/vadimguzhva

Don’t look at yourself as just another statistic. This leads to limiting beliefs that bury 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 your doctor told you that you will never 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.

That’s why the best way to maximize your brain injury recovery chances is to believe you will make a full recovery, and do everything you can to work towards that goal.

Positive beliefs affect the subconscious mind in the opposite way that limiting beliefs do. They give you the motivation you need to recover from brain injury.

Boosting Your Brain Damage Recovery Chances

It is vital to remember that statistics and figures about brain damage recovery chances are not definitive. Even when the odds look grim, it’s always possible to achieve a good recovery.

There are dozens of severe brain injury recovery stories where patients defy all expectations and surprise their doctors by their progress. And in each case, it was because the person ignored negative predictions and persevered with therapy.

This can be your story too. Focus on what you want to achieve, and do not give up, even when things feel impossible.

The brain is remarkably adaptive, and with the right therapy and attitude, you can increase the possibility of a good recovery from brain injury.

Featured Image: ©iStock/vichie81

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