Our mission is to help individuals with misunderstood ailments after brain injury. The first step is to gain insight in the seemingly vague residual complaints (fatigue, overstimulation, impaired process of thought and emotional lability). The second step is understanding the reason why you react to these impairments in the way you do. The third step is to, once again, become a well- balanced individual. To achieve this, the main focus is on personal attention. Our view is that every person is like a fingerprint, completely unique. There is no standard protocol used to provide treatment, as each person has their own way of reacting to all aspects relating to brain injury.
Brain injury: a misunderstood injury
Brain injury is a frequently misunderstood injury. Numerous seemingly vague residual complaints are labeled as 'psychological' and are not well understood. A major complaint experienced by patients with brain injury is fatigue and overstimulation. We live in a fast moving society, with lots of stimuli that need to be processed at high speed. When someone experiences overstimulation it makes it harder for them to process stimuli, sounds are perceived as louder and light as brighter. Ambient noise is perceived as irritating, normal sunlight is harder to endure and one gets easily overwhelmed by crowds or a lot of movement around them. Due to the quick onset of fatigue it is almost impossible to go to birthday parties, to go grocery shopping or to participate in social activities. The fatigue causes disturbances in thought processes and causes functional limitations. After reading a text, one can already be so tired that one must rest for a period to recover from the mental effort. In particular, the reading of digital displays (smartphone, computer, tablet) is highly discomforting to patients who experience brain injury. In addition to the fatigue and overstimulation one notices that one has more trouble remembering and concentrating. In other words: memory loss increases and concentration becomes poorer when fatigue increases.
When one experiences such symptoms and complaints, but keeps attempting to function beyond one’s own capacity, one can develop secondary complaints. Overstimulation of the brain can only partially be compared to overstimulation of the body. The body generates, for example, pain signals as a warning signal. In the case of a broken bone, one knows that rest will give the bone a chance to heal. Not heeding the break results in intense pain. The brain however gives only indirect warning signals. Additionally these complaints are accumulative: overstimulation by light, noise or crowds, having difficulty processing stimuli, cause even more problems with thought processes (concentration and memory) and fatigue. Many people do not recognize these alarm signals, or are not dealing with them adequately. Because these symptoms of overstimulation of the brain are not so easily noticeable to others and because we live in a society that is focused on performance, people will tend not to listen to their own bodies and are likely to overstep the boundaries signaled by their complaints. This functioning beyond the own capacity will further increase the complaints and will ultimately result in exhaustion. Not being able to function in the desired way, the patient will subsequently develop additional emotional reactions causing them to feel incapacitated and frustrated. The misunderstood component of brain injury thus consists of fatigue, rapidly becoming overstimulated, experiencing a decline in performance and incapacitating emotional responses.
Medical trajectory after a brain injury
After brain injury patients are exposed to a chaos of analyses by medical specialists, doctors, company doctors, insurance doctors, psychologists, nurses, general practitioners, etc. At the start of the diagnostic process patients often see a neurologist and an MRI is made. Usually the MRI shows no abnormalities in patients with mild brain injuries or at the start of brain disease. It often leads to an erroneous conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the brain injury patient, the patient is sent home after a 10 minute consultation and has a high risk of developing residual symptoms as described above. Afterwards, they come into contact with company doctors, insurance doctors and the whole situation spirals down into wrong medical analyses, inaccurate estimates of capacity and not knowing a way out. Additionally, solving the case becomes very difficult and numerous patients will lose the opportunity to work, will lack a sound interpretation of their quality of life and will experience a loss of happiness. This results in a process that annually costs society billions.
What is the way out?
It is important to know that patients themselves often do not have a realistic understanding of their limitations, their symptoms and their complaints, whilst being driven to perform at pre-morbid level. Recovering from brain damage is a complex process that a patient has to work through with the help of a professional. It is necessary that one acquires knowledge of the presentation of symptoms and also gets advice how to deal with them. A brain injury is essentially a neuropsychological phenomenon. Neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation is needed to get a good impression of the seemingly vague residual symptoms and how to cope with them. The neuropsychological examination is used to assess the extent of (mental) energy loss, cognitive and/or emotional changes as well as the impact of pain sensations. With this information and understanding, it is possible to establish an adequate treatment of brain injuries to understand the actual limitations and how to adapt to them. In the next phase, the affected cognitive functions are reactivated and a medical fitness program is used to improve the energy level and reduce pain levels. The entire process of diagnostics and treatment has a three month duration. It aims to avoid developing exhaustion, to optimize the (natural) recovery as well as jamming the carousel of insurance agencies, injury procedures, occupational health services and unemployment agencies.
Often there is a misconception that the complaints of (mild) brain injury will resolve themselves after some time. This natural recovery can only occur when conditions are optimal. Once again making the comparison to a broken bone, the bone heals whilst it is being rested. If pressure is continually applied to the same bone, the healing process will be considerably slower. The same applies to the brain. One needs to discover and perform the right activities during the recovery period in order to optimize recovery. It should be noted that even with an optimal recovery period residual complaints may remain!