The lengths of rehabilitation and recovery are specific to each person. You may recover certain functions quickly, or you may be left with a long-term weakness or disability. Healing of the body, especially the brain, may take a long time, but fortunately you can continue to heal and improve for a long time. It’s important to not give up hope: research has shown that motivation and a positive attitude are what separate those who continue to improve from those who reach a certain point and do not move past it.
Rehabilitation is hard work. At times it can seem as if nothing will ever get easier. To gain the most benefit, you must be fully involved in your rehabilitation. With persistence and a positive attitude, many things are possible.
Try to be realistic about how much functioning you can recover. Although you may continue to improve for a long time after an initial injury, not everyone recovers 100% of their former capabilities. You may need to adapt to doing things in new ways, and ask for or accept assistance for short or long periods of time. Although we are taught to be self-reliant and independent, sometimes this is not possible.
It is important to communicate your cultural and spiritual beliefs to nurses and other healthcare workers. People come from many backgrounds and have differing beliefs. If you are willing to share your thoughts and beliefs and be as open as possible to the medical advice given, you and your healthcare team can develop a plan that is respectful of your wishes.
Many injuries, illnesses, and conditions are painful. It is important to communicate your level of pain so that it can be managed as well as possible and so that you can participate as fully as possible in your rehabilitation and recovery. Be sure to speak up when something is not just difficult or strenuous but painful.
Ask for clarification if you do not understand what you are being told or if one healthcare provider says something different from what you heard from another.
Discuss your feelings with your nurse and social worker. Change is difficult, especially changes in our body and health. Your feelings and mood may shift. At times you may feel hopeful and at other times discouraged or depressed. Talking about how you feel helps others understand you better.
Much is expected of the family members of rehabilitation patients: emotional support, physical assistance, management of finances and the household, help with insurance issues, and communication with other family members and friends. It is important for your family members to be involved in some rehabilitation activities so that they can continue to support you as needed after you are released from rehabilitation. However, they most likely are the ones who will need to prepare your home for your return. So where is their time best spent? Family members and friends need to preserve proper balance in their own lives, while supporting you and preparing your home for your return. Your family members or caregivers may find a home safety checklist helpful as they prepare your home for your return.