No two brain injuries are the same

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Everyone's unique and that's true after brain injury. As we've already learned, we have over a hundred billion neurons in our brain. Everybody's brain though is slightly different. We know in general terms what part of the brain controls what function. But each of us, our brains are slightly different. That's because we've got different backgrounds. Some of us had really good education and we'd have really good stimulus as children, so our brains have grown more neurons and more neurons are active than maybe somebody who's not had that privilege. As we go through life, we have different experiences. Someone who's been a musician, there are part of their brains gonna be more active and have more neurons than somebody who's not a musician. Likewise, if someone's good at art or sports, the part of the brain that controls that is going to be great and have more neurons than somebody who hasn't. We do know that physical exercise is very good for the brain.

We know that the brain loves that oxygen. In fact, the brain uses most of our oxygen. Therefore, it's really important we get the oxygen up to the brain to keep the neurons alive. We do this through the blood and the blood rushes up to the brain when we're physically active. Someone who's been cognitively stimulated and had physical exercise is going to have a very healthy brain with lots of neurons, where somebody else may not have that. We also know that when a brain injury hits, it's gonna hit some of those neurons. The chances of us losing the same neurons as somebody else is unlikely. Therefore, it's going to lead to a different disability. This makes looking after somebody with a brain injury very difficult because we can't say to the patient, "In a few years' time, this will happen. Or if we do this treatment, we will get that result." We don't know because the person's unique. We would hope that something that's worked with somebody else would work with the client that we're working with now, but we don't know that. That can be very frustrating for the clients because they think doctors or medics just aren't telling the truth.

They think that doctors do know what will happen in two months' time, but they don't because of the uniqueness of the brain. This also is very frustrating to family carers who are trying to put a rehab program together. We do know the outcomes also would be unique, and that's down to the support that somebody gets around rehab. If they're taken to the hospital immediately and the effect of the brain injury is reduced, so get the expert medical attention immediately, maybe the skull's removed without swelling, a person's going to make a good recovery. If they receive rehab immediately from conditions commissions and places like Headway, then that person stands a really good chance of having a good recovery. If they have an active family who are going to help them with the rehab, in between the times the professionals are putting in, then that's really going to help that person. We have to get the balance right. People are very, very tired after brain injury. The brain is really working hard and it's damaged. We wouldn't ask somebody to run a marathon after they have broken a leg.

It's the same with the brain injury. We need to get that balance right. Somebody needs to be stimulated because the brain wants to recover, but they're going to be tired and need that time to rest. However, the person themselves may not know they need rest and it'll be up to people around them to say, "I think you're tired now." Maybe they're angry, maybe they look tired, maybe they look frustrated. That's the time for someone to have a power nap 10 minutes, an hour of sleep. It's important they have a healthy diet, the body needs that five fruit and vegetables a day. Somebody needs to be well hydrated so that the brain could make that recovery. If someone's having all that support, their chances of making a good recovery are better than somebody who has no support. We all have different support systems that make our recovery unique.