Our brains are so very important in every cognitive and social aspect in our lives- so why is it that the importance of how our brains function and react to learning situations within classroom environments, work places scenarios, and within our family home interactions that it is not truly realized or appreciated? I believe the relevance of brain-based teaching and learning may be quite over whelming for some, due to their limited exposure or background knowledge of the why and how our brains work, and the complexity of understanding the varied learning challenges of an individual who has suffered a TBI. It is not until a life changing situation occurs- and when it is internalized through a personalized learning experience- does it become the most important and critical learning aspect of all of our lives.
Jake's in line of duty military accident - which lead to over 50% of his body to be broken and a sever traumatic brain injury has prioritized our thinking of brain-based awareness as parents, our family support to aid in Jake's daily living social skills, and every day learning and social interactions to contribute to his quality of life. Jake is still in his recovery phase to heal his brain - even 3.5 years since his accident. He switches between the Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning indicators of levels 7, 8, 9. Jake is now beginning to read more lengthy paragraph texts- and reading to comprehend and understand complex text, while applying this new knowledge to his daily life and social interactions with his world around him. He especially is beginning to understand the why and how his brain functions now due to his traumatic brain injury, and is realizing what he can do and what he is still struggling with, and how to approach, relate and handle these challenges.
The Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning
Level 1-- No Response: Person appears to be in a deep sleep.
Level 2-- Generalized Response: Person reacts inconsistently and not directly in response to stimuli.
Level 3-- Localized Response: Person reacts inconsistently and directly to stimuli.
Level 4-- Confused/Agitated: Person is extremely agitated and confused.
Level 5-- Confused-Inappropriate/Non-agitated: Person is confused and responses to commands are inaccurate.
Level 6-- Confused-Appropriate: Person is confused and responds accurately to commands.
Level 7-- Automatic-Appropriate: Person can go through daily routine with minimal to no confusion.
Level 8-- Purposeful-Appropriate: Person has functioning memory, and is aware of and responsive to their environment.
Level 9-- Purposeful-Appropriate: Person can go through daily routine while aware of need for stand by assistance.
Level 10-- Purposeful-Appropriate/Modified Independent: Person can go through daily routine but may require more time or compensatory strategies.
Recovery two years after brain injury
Based on information of people with moderate to severe TBI who received acute medical care and inpatient rehabilitation services at a TBI Model System, two years post-injury:
Most people continue to show decreases in disability.
34% of people required some level of supervision during the day and/or night.
93% of people are living in a private residence.
34% are living with their spouse or significant other; 29% are living with their parents.
33% are employed; 29% are unemployed; 26% are retired due to any reason; and 3% are students.
Jake's TBI speciality eye doctor- known as Dr. Sterling from Gundersen Lutheran Health Systems in LaCrosse, WI (he is one of 20 TBI eye doctors in the USA) has been a god-sent in Jake's life. Not only has he aided in the correction of Jake's vision impairments, he has advised and positively influenced Jake to better understand the healing stages of his TBI and the reason for the vision impairment from the accident. This past summer, Jake took Dr. Sterling up on his suggestion, and purchased his first book once again titled "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge, MD. This particular book is allowing Jake to begin to read to understand of how his mindset of positive thinking is constantly changing his brain to improve memory, sharpen his perceptions of increased short and long term memory gains, and increasing his processing speed to interpret and activly contribute more in meaningful conversations.
Jake will never be able to drive a car again due to the severity of his impaired peripheral vision from the accident. He is still very sensitive to light, so he wears prescription Oakley darkened sunglasses that provides the ultimate shading and prism lenses to aid in a crisper focus. We are very fortunate now in a state of self-driving cars, and in years to come it will be the norm for many. It is amazing how the technology is being created to assist individuals with impairments and handicaps to live a normal life according to their terms. I can not wait for the day for Jake to have this type of mobile car access to aid in his independent daily living adventures. In the mean time, Jake has my husband Jeff and myself as his private chauffeurs and "foody tour guides" at this time. Our weekly family outings within our NorCal region, and cross country family vacations these past three years have now contributed to some of the most amazing family quality times in my lifetime, besides the scrumptious culinary delights we have discovered as a transformative trio.
When life deals you with horrific challenges - family above all - is what is the most important element to heal, nurture, love, aid and pave the road to a successful recovery. Every traumatic brain injury story will look totally different and the healing timeframes will greatly vary between each individual. Those that are willing to accept to be patient with time - the ultimate happiness comes to those who can accept the challenge, forgive the past, and lead and model with a positive growth mindset, to discover the future of the "what if's and endless learning potentials of what is still to come!