Many of the 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 disinhibited, 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 their 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 a patient can practice handling his or her behaviors in more realistic situations.
“The first goal is to engage the child in treatment,” explained the manager of Cumberland’s Traumatic Brain Injury Services. “We’ve found that teaching practical, compensatory strategies is the key to successful treatment.”
Depending on their cognitive abilities, patients learn how to stay on a task for a period of time, or they work on problem-solving, safety issues and thinking through how to make a good decision.
They also learn ways to handle their explosive outbursts that may accompany brain injuries. Throughout treatment, our staff use a level system to encourage acceptable behaviors rather than punishing negative ones. When patients earn privileges, the patient sees an immediate reward for appropriate behaviors. If agitated behaviors are due to 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.