You Look Great! -- Strategies for Living Inside a Brain Injury

Dealing With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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Living With Traumatic Brain Injury

During the first quarter of , another 6, service members had suffered brain injuries. Promotional materials note "he's a different person.

An inside look at the traumatized brain, and how you can start to heal.

Between and , John Byler worked as an Instructional Designer and writer, creating “learning solutions” for companies, most of them Fortune With rich anecdotes and personal narratives, “You Look Great!” presents The TBI Recovery Model, an interdisciplinary approach to recovering from a brain injury.

The reason why temperaments can change is not simple because the human brain and its connective networks are so intricate, says Dr. Doctors have learned, through new imaging tools, there is no single hub for emotion, no neurological sectors for happiness or pleasure. For some brain-injury survivors, emotional control is lost. Through intensive therapy, those patients work on new coping skills to harness their post-injury tempers. While the core of his personality remained, agitation and anger were the hardest emotions for Cromer to control, recalls his wife, a psychiatric nurse.

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With the help of cognitive psychologists, people are often able to find ways to cope and even overcome such difficulties. Therapy treatments rooted in cognitive research focus on helping people change these negative thinking patterns and replace such thoughts with more positive and realistic ones. In addition to adding to our understanding of how the human mind works, the field of cognitive psychology has also had an impact on approaches to mental health.

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Before the s, many mental health approaches were focused more on psychoanalytic , behavioral , and humanistic approaches. The so-called "cognitive revolution" that took place during this period put a greater emphasis on understanding the way people process information and how thinking patterns might contribute to psychological distress.

Thanks to research in this area by cognitive psychologists, new approaches to treatment were developed to help treat depression, anxiety, phobias, and other psychological disorders. Cognitive behavior therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy are two methods in which clients and therapists focus on the underlying cognitions that contribute to psychological distress.

0001 Enhancing emotional insight after traumatic brain injury: A treatment for alexithymia

Therapists can help clients identify irrational beliefs and other cognitive distortions that are in conflict with reality and then aid them in replacing such thoughts with more realistic, healthy beliefs. If you are experiencing symptoms of a psychological disorder that would benefit from the use of cognitive approaches, you might see a psychologist who has specific training in these cognitive treatment methods.

These professionals frequently go by titles other than cognitive psychologists, such as psychiatrist, clinical psychologist , or counseling psychologist , but many of the strategies they utilize are rooted in the cognitive tradition.

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If you're unsure of a practitioner's discipline or approach, just ask him or her. Being diagnosed with a brain or cognitive health problem can be frightening and sometimes confusing, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. By working with your doctor, you can come up with an effective treatment plan to help address brain health and cognitive problems.

Your treatment may involve consulting with a cognitive psychologist who has a background in the specific area of concern that you are facing, or you may be referred to another mental health professional that has training and experience with your particular illness. You may find it helpful to learn as much as you can about your initial diagnosis and to consider putting together a list of questions you have before your next visit with your physician, cognitive psychologist, or mental health professional.

This can help you feel better prepared and ready to tackle the next steps in your treatment. As you can see, the field of cognitive psychology is both broad and diverse, yet it touches on so many aspects of daily life.

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Research on cognitive psychology may at times seem academic and far-removed from the problems you face in everyday life, yet the findings from such scientific investigations play a role in how professionals approach the treatment of mental illness, traumatic brain injury, and degenerative brain diseases. Thanks to the work of cognitive psychologists, we can better pinpoint ways to measure human intellectual abilities, develop new strategies to combat memory problems, and decode the workings of the human brain—all of which ultimately has a powerful impact on how we treat cognitive disorders.

The field of cognitive psychology is a rapidly growing area that continues to add to our understanding of the many influences that mental processes have on our health and daily lives. From understanding how cognitive processes change over the course of child development to looking at how the brain transforms sensory inputs into perceptions, cognitive psychology has helped us gain a deeper and richer understanding of the many mental events that contribute to our daily existence and overall well-being.

Ever wonder what your personality type means? Sign up to find out more in our Healthy Mind newsletter. A lack of information on dealing with changes in sexual function after brain injury is also a lost opportunity. But the workbook's strengths are manifold too. Its scope is laudably broad, with sections on a wide range of medical, psychological, vocational, behavioral, and interpersonal issues.

There is even a business-like chapter on veterans with brain injury that is replete with information of use to this population.

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Where appropriate, the workbook has a solid foundation in empirical research. Many of the chapters are exemplary in their thoroughness, clarity, and tone.

For example, a superb section on substance abuse helps readers identify their "relationship" with alcohol, taking into account both patterns of use and readiness to change, and empowers them to address misuse in a variety of ways including harm reduction approaches and abstinence. It is a model of even-handedness and neutrality that will likely be of use even to those drinkers who are unwilling to acknowledge substance misuse.

You Look Great!: Strategies for Living Inside a Brain Injury

Likewise, an outstanding chapter on depression, anxiety, and emotional challenges is conversational without being condescending and provides self-tests to help readers identify emotional problems and range of potential ways to address those problems, including strategies for cultivating resilience and nurturing positive emotions. Sometimes the information provided is quite dense eg, in a chapter covering the complex issues of return to school after brain injury but it is valuable to have this information gathered in one place.

The workbook is full of worksheets of a generally high quality, which may prove equally useful to survivors and service providers, and these are collected on an accompanying CD to facilitate storage and printing. Another plus is the attempt to reflect the voices of survivors throughout the book by peppering it with relevant quotations.

While their authenticity is sometimes doubtful, the message that survivors' voices must be heard is unmistakable. Reasonably priced, this workbook is to be recommended for college-educated individuals whose cognitive difficulties do not interfere with reading comprehension.

In addition to being of help to individuals with brain injury and their caregivers and loved ones, it will likely be of use to brain injury advocates and service providers as an informational resource and as a way of enriching treatment. Efforts of this kind are to be applauded and it is hoped that the editors will seek input from individuals with brain injuries to make future editions even more useful and accessible.

Each of the 12 chapters in Living Life Fully After Brain Injury delves deeply into critical aspects of carrying on-if not quite living life fully-with this infirmity, whether so-called mild, moderate, or severe. Topics range from behavioral and cognitive changes to employment, depression, and the use and abuse of medications. Each issue is critical for the target audience to understand and master, an audience clearly stated in its subtitle: A Workbook for Survivors, Families, and Caregivers. All issues related to brain-injury recovery will be new to most family members, friends, and even professional caregivers, who will no doubt find new research results of interest.

Because it is up to these formal and informal caregivers to oversee the nurturing and healing of the survivor and spoon-feed helpful strategies to enable us to carry on one more day, their challenges cannot be underestimated.