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Do Moderate/Severe Injuries (ABI) get better?

I have been lurking for a while, thought I would ask to find if anyone is in a state similar to my brother. My Engineer brother had cardiac arrest age 51, 30 min no heartbeat, about 3-5 min without CPR (had cpr the rest of time, thanks to heroic teen son). 13 day coma with anoxic brain injury categorized as severe. Came out and improved to his current state (7 months post arrest), which is: can walk, can run, can feed self, can do most toileting but needs help pulling up and fastening pants or wiping, cannot drive, cannot see as well as before, slow thinking/processing, can barely read, cannot write, cannot use computer, can only use a phone in basic sense, like answering a call or reading a text (all else is beyond him). Has a lot of problems doing things: cannot put shoes on, cannot tie shoes, spends 15 minute getting a T-shirt on (it is like a difficult puzzle to him). Pants and coats are still beyond his capacity. When presented with a letter, he turns it over and over trying to figure out how to open it. Cannot use TV remote control. Cannot cook. He can get a bowl of cereal for himself, albeit messily. Very Very Depressed, as he was a successful engineer and that is all over.

Question: Is there anyone, ANYONE on this list that was in the same boat, or knows someone in similar state, who got much better? Or is this sort of state a very unusual one? I read here about people minimal responsive or vegetative state, and I read posts from people who had a brain injury, but who are now able to use a computer and drive and work. Does anyone know about someone in my brother's in-between state who got better? If yes, to what extent? Driving, cooking, working? Looking for hope.

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teresa, you dont say how long ago this was.

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Hello. She says her brother is 7 months post arrest.

Hi Teresa, I hope you get some peole with similar experiences. I'm a cardiac arrest survivor too (also 7months on), but I'm fortunate that my brain damage is less severe than your brother. I have however been told by neurologists that 2 years is a typical period for still seeing significant improvements, but appreciate your need to hear from people with more similar experiences. Have you found the sudden cardiac arrest in Facebook group? It's a community of about 1000 cardiac arrest survivors and their carers. May be a helpful forum for you. Sending you strength xxx

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*sudden cardiac arrest uk

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Hi Teresa,

7 months is still quite a short time in BI terms. My husband took much longer than this (several years) to be able to do things for himself. Keep giving his brain SMALL challenges, maybe just do a childs jigsaw puzzle or something. He should improve some more. My husband was able to go back to work (although in a very basic job) after a couple of years.

Good luck.

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Hi Teresa honestly for him to be doing what he’s doing now is miraculous! I see great improvement for him in time and rehabilitation. Have you tried high dose fish oil. Look it up, I’ve heard it helps the brain a lot. What I’ve learned from my husband brain injury( sca down for 45 minutes) healthy machine operator for 7 years is that look into researching other alternatives. I’m going to try the high dose fish oil this month but I wish my husband was at the capacity. He doesn’t feed himself or dress himself it’s been a year of non stop therapy but the brain has its own time...... God Bless

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Hi

My husband had a similar length of time in coma and his TBI was severe - he had been a scientist pre-injury. His injury occurred April 2011. I remember taking him to a shop at Christmas so he could buy me a Christmas present and standing away from him so my present would be a surprise - and I stood crying as I watched him being confused and overwhelmed by what to do in a shop. HE didn't know how to look for where things might be/where the tills were and what to do when he stumbled across them. He couldn't buy anything and just didn't get the concept - like your brother with letters. I thought that would be as good as it got (I was still grateful as I had expected him to die).

We had a fabulous Occupational Therapist and I did a lot of research about how to challenge the brain function - particularly things like problem solving and executive functions. We used everyday challenges rather that hypothetical things as he saw no value in those. He slowly improved and now he has pretty good general conceptual understanding of most things, can hold good conversations, process and make decisions (if slowly) and is in a better state than a lot of people without an injury.

There absolutely is hope - in your brother's favour there is a lot of research which suggests the higher level of education someone had pre-injury the more likely they are to progress further with their recovery (they are not sure why but possibly to do with having previously trained the brain/plasticity). So although it might be frustrating for him to no longer be an engineer the fact he ever was should help him.

I bought my husband meccanno type kits to help him with his processing skills and physical co-ordination. The first couple he needed me to help/redo parts but as time went on he could make increasingly complex ones. He also enjoyed it.

Finding something he will enjoy but which is challenging is key I think. He will have to work at it though. Every day is a physio day is our mantra.

So there is hope. Honestly.

Good luck.

Dawn

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Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I will look into the fish oil, and the building kits are a good idea. Maybe we could start with basic lego cars, as Meccano would be beyond him right now. my concern is that his depression is making him hopeless and he watches TV all day, thinking that is the only thing left to him.

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Is he on any anti-depressants? Yes definitely start with basic kits etc so he gets some success. Does he have any occupational therapy or specialist support?

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His wife, my sis in law, does not want him on anti-depressants. Not sure why, but she is adamant. He goes to occupational and speech and physical therapy each week. He just got a new therapy place that is better and more challenging to him. The previous one was making him practice walking when he can actually run.

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i thought it was rather rude replying through a third party to my question.

has he had any further phsio since his discharge from hospital or follow up appointments?

due to my bi im unable to put socks on, but my wife is going to buy me a device that will help me to put my socks on, have a look on the internet. encouraging and assisting your brother to dress is more important than playing with lego, this should be seen as a treat for his effort in dressing himself,other past times should be offered like painting and drawing ( our likes can change after a bi ).

watch out also for behaviour changes such as mood swings, noise intolerance, rudeness, dislike of strangers and crowds.

steve

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I assume you thought me rude because Alice Ro clarified that he was 7 month post arrest? Alice replied during a time when I was not online and therefore had not yet seen your question.

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When I suggested he learn to build kits this was the therapy itself not as a reward or treat - my husband doesn't need training but he did need some problem solving challenges.

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It's so easy to just 'daydream', I did this for 6 months, my wife would come home and the only time I'd moved from the sofa was to go to the toilet. Had I eaten, no, what had I done, I didn't know.

So, tough love and I was given a list of thing to do, felt like hell but I'm sure that very slowly it did contribute to my recovery. Lots of good advice already about activities.

I started taking Omega 3, after about 3 months post TBI, lots of info here:

omega3innovations.com/blog/

Just do a search for omega 3 on the site

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Hi Teresa, I'm sorry to hear about your brother. I've had Ataxia for approx 5 years. From a condition of not being able to walk, poor speech and sight, hearing and being unable to deal with even minor stress, with the help of my medical team I am much improved.

My medication seems to be based on getting blood to my brain more quickly through exercise. I had physio daily nothing special but repetitious and found the series of exercises extremely useful and helpful to the extent that I walk unaided and am now self -reliant. I sleep well, eat well, help with the washing up work in the garden and workshop.

Most of my early fears have been allayed. I can't run or ride a bike, I can drive short distances until my eyes lose focus, My wife stays with me in what I do (just in case).

You say that your brother can walk and run, that's a place to start if you are able to accompany him on non-strenuous outings walking light jogging and instructing and helping, as you would a child when he is dressing himself the improvements will come gradually and inevitably. Perseverance proves to be a winner in these situations. I have friends who are Engineers and admire their skills and friendship. In my opinion, they are a breed apart and deserve recognition greater than is given to them by society.

I have no medical training so you must decide how best to use the info above which I hope may be of some help to both you and your brother. Stay strong and persevere.

Kind regards

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