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While useful for everyone, understanding plasticity is most important for those people who ‘fell through the net,’ and haven’t had any specialist medical support since their brain injury. 

Because of a history of being persistently dismissed and of having their symptoms treated only with prescription medications, many never revisit their doctor for help. People lose hope of ever getting help and of ever having adequate recognition of their outcomes and symptoms.

For these people, who have often been struggling alone for many years, or even decades, there is a real need to bring that hope back.

Unbelievably many people never actually receive a formal diagnosis of brain injury. Because of a continuing lack of awareness amongst doctors, many people are considered malingerers and these attitudes rub off diminishing the motivation people have. They end up just trying to get on with things the best they can.

Since there is no point in reinventing the wheel, we would like to share this video from ‘The Sentis Brain Animation Series.‘ While this is not specific to brain injury, it does explain how plasticity works shortly and sharply.

Sometimes it is up to us to educate our doctors and to be persistent in asking for a referral to specialist services. That the understanding of neuroplasticity supports these ventures, even many years after an injury occurred, opens opportunities to people so that they can get the help they need.

Understanding plasticity also empowers people in many other ways. We only have to think of the wounds to our self-esteem, caused by the common experiences of brain injury, to know and understand that there are many beliefs we may need to change about ourselves to heal the psychological damage. For example, being continually berated and told that you are wrong, repeating the same mistakes over and over because of a lack of feedback, and despite having the best of intentions and putting in tremendous amounts of effort, it is natural to relate these experiences to how we feel and what we learn to believe about ourselves post brain injury. Understanding plasticity helps us to know that we can change anything about ourselves that we want to.

On that note, it is crucial to understand that it is the brain that is injured – not the person. When we learn to separate the attachment of our disabilities from how we think about ourselves, we are playing in a whole new ballpark when it comes to fixing the broken brain. Shifting our perspective can work wonders to change how we feel about ourselves and to how we approach things.

Out-dated understanding can trap people into ways of thinking, but when we embrace all the new science, there is, we are naturally motivated to re-charge our efforts.

The video, of Dr Norman Doige, speaking about neuroplasticity can also be helpful.

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