I thought I could debunk the most harmful myths in a single post. I was wrong. No matter how few myths I covered and how little coverage I gave each myth, there was no way to fit the necessary information into such a small space. As such, the idea of debunking myths continues with this post.
- Myth #5: All brain injuries are identical.
- Myth #6: If you can get up, you are fine.
- Myth #7: If you can walk, you can work.
- Myth #8: If you go to therapy, you will get better.
Myth #5: All brain injuries are identical
Even though it is physiologically impossible that all brain injuries are alike, some people believe that trauma to the head, regardless of the cause, severity, or location, will result in the exact same injury. This myth is so absurd that it begs to be refuted. Many studies have proven that different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions of the body. Therefore, an injury to the visual cortex could not possibly affect the body in the same way that injury to the frontal lobe would. Furthermore, treatment for two different injuries requires two different types of therapy. Since the type of injury, severity, and location of injury differ from case to case, it is not a big stretch to guess why the rate of recovery is also different from person to person.
Myth #6: If you can get up, you are fine
We are often referred to as the “Walking Wounded.” For some reason, the term makes me think about zombies rather than brain-injury survivors. I’ll leave the discussion of zombies for another post. What’s important to remember about this myth is that standing, walking, thinking, and working do not imply that you are fine. Physical, occupational, verbal, visual, and cognitive therapists excel in identifying and correcting a host of challenges that prevent your being fine. Do not let insurance providers, doctors, social workers, therapists, family members, or friends convince you that you are fine when you know you need help.
Myth #7: If you can walk, you can work
In a study published by Grauwmeijer E, Heijenbrok-Kal MH, Haitsma IK, and Ribbers GM (2012) in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Vol. 93(6), pp 993-999., “only 15 percent of people with moderate or severe traumatic brain injury were employed three months after their injury; however, 55 percent were employed after three years.” Clearly, it takes more than walking to be able to work. A similar myth, which is also easily proven wrong is that people in a wheelchair cannot walk so they cannot work. The latter myth is not only wrong, it is offensive. There is no connection between using a wheelchair and being physically able to work.
Myth #8: If you go to therapy, you will get better
Recovery does not occur simply by showing up. Recovery requires effort. The brain will do its best to heal itself, but patients must help. Schedule and attend the therapy you need. Exercise regularly. Eat well. Challenge your mind and body. Surround yourself with positive, enthusiastic, caring, and supportive people. Do what you can, and NEVER QUIT.
- True or False: All brain injuries are identical.
- True or False: If you can stand, you are fine.