TBI Talk: Here’s Where You’re Wrong

My name is Kristen Kocot and I am a clinician who has dedicated their career to the advocacy and advancement of a continuum of care for individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s).  I have had the privilege of working directly with hundreds of individuals and their families/support networks.  Every individual had a story, and a unique journey that they let me come along on the ride for.  It is now my responsibility to pass on everything I have learned and am learning from them in the best interest of the future journey of TBI survivors.  Why not start by clearing up some of the biggest misunderstandings when it comes to TBI survivor treatment? Here’s a starter list of things I would like to scream from the rooftops of every TBI treatment center in America :):

  1. Life is not over when someone sustains a TBI. Let me take this a step further, I have personally witnessed MANY individuals better their life after sustaining a TBI.  Call it an awakening, rebirth, miracle, or whatever you want, but the bottom line is life is NOT over.   While it may be an incredibly challenging and traumatic experience, people DO come out the other side of it and this needs to be understood by EVERYONE.
  2. The sustainment of a TBI and subsequent journey is as unique as we all are as human beings. Just like no two people are the same, the journey to recovery isn’t either.  Treatment centers need to be aware of language when it comes to this point, we need not refer to patients or groups of patients as “TBI’s”.  Grouping people in this one category implies a deceiving sameness to both their experience and their necessary next steps.  Treat every individual uniquely when it comes to your follow-up recommendations and treatment planning just as you would anyone else.
  3. A TBI is not what you see in the movies, this is not 50 First Dates. While these movies are entertaining (shout out to Groundhog Day as well), please do not rely on them as factual and/or a real life depiction of those living with traumatic brain injuries.  While they may closely resemble someone’s experience, they are FAR from everyone’s experience.
  4. Know and believe that the brain is a resilient and powerful force. People with TBI’s heal, their cognition and overall functioning improves, and they go on to do great things. Neuroplasticity has shown us that the brain heals itself over time under the right conditions. While everyone’s experience and journey remains unique, there are MANY things TBI survivors can do to take positive steps towards recovery and put their best foot forward.  That my friends, is for next time!