Many young people who require Cumberland’s Traumatic Brain Injury services are those whose neurological impairments are complicated by severe behavioral problems and/or emotional issues. They may respond by being uninhibited, impulsive, frustrated and oppositional to the point of being aggressive. They are medically stable, but most require physical, occupational, speech and/or neuropsychological therapies to improve their functional abilities. They also require specific therapies to improve cognitive ability, develop behavioral control and improve their self-image.
Each patient’s rehabilitation, psychotherapies and activities are structured to provide an environment for repetition and reinforcement of new skills. Gradually, our staff reduces the amount of structure so the patient can practice handling his behaviors in more realistic situations.
“The first goal is to engage the child in treatment,” explained the manager of Cumberland’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program. “We’ve found that teaching practical, compensatory strategies is the key to successful treatment.”
Depending on their cognitive abilities, patients learn how to focus on tasks for specific time periods. They work on problem-solving, safety issues and sound decision-making.
Patients also learn ways to self-manage explosive outbursts that may accompany brain injuries. Cumberland professionals use a “level” system to encourage acceptable behaviors. When a patient earns privileges, the patient receives an immediate reward for appropriate behaviors. If agitated behaviors are caused by damage to a specific portion of the brain rather than an emotional response to the patient’s deficits, then staff focuses on compensatory strategies for improved behavior control.