Occupational Therapy for Severe Brain Injury

Occupational Therapy after Severe Closed Head Injury

By Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

Occupational therapy is the primary therapy that helps the survivors of severe brain injury relearn to do things and includes significant work with fine motor skills like the use of the hands. If a survivor has had physical impairments with their brain injury it is imperative that they get some kind of occupational therapy as part of their rehabilitation.

Some brain injury survivors get frustrated with the repetitiveness and what seem simple tasks that they are asked to do it when it comes to occupational therapy.  Then there are those that really enjoy the working with their hands and the therapy to regain hand to eye coordination skills that this type of therapy with help them with.  To give you examples of real life survivor stories we will refer to out TBI Voices project. We will start with the story of Betty.

Betty was in a car accident when the driver of the vehicle she was in was impaired.  As a favor to a student that she went to school with asked her to join her family for Thanksgiving, Betty agreed because the family was going through a very rough time as the brother of her friend had been in a terrible motorcycle accident.  What Betty didn’t realize was that when her friend had been drinking before she came to pick her up for their trip that day.  The accident caused Betty to suffer a severe brain injury in the crash, including frontal lobe (a subdural hematoma) and occipital lobe injury requiring brain surgery.

Betty’s injuries resulted in a coma and a three month hospital stay.  Her rehabilitation started before she came out of the coma and continued while she was in the hospital. Once she was discharged she went to an outpatient rehabilitation center where she received physical therapy, speech pathology, psychological and occupational therapy. Of these, occupational therapy was her favorite.  Betty states; “Occupational therapy was particularly one of my favorites because I loved working with the clay and making bowls.  I did a lot of other projects including cross stitch and it really improved my hand eye coordination.”  To read Betty’s entire story click here.

Another example of a survivors occupational therapy comes from the story of Doug.  Doug was in a devastating one car accident when his brakes went out and he hit a telephone pole.  His injuries caused Doug to suffer a severe brain injury.  Doug was in a coma for two months.  He was transferred to two different hospitals, the last being a hospital that dealt with rehabilitation for his brain injury.

He has a good memory of his speech and occupational therapy that he received a the rehabilitation facility.  In regards to his occupational therapy he states:

“It’s just like repetition, I’m going over different puzzles, different word games. I’m trying to think what else I did there.  Things like word games, mind games, yeah, word searches. Just trying to get my brain to work.  To get the brain into learning how to do things. Learn to do things on your owns.  Repetitions.” To read the entire story of Doug click here.

Occupational therapy can be somewhat frustrating to some survivors where others thrive on it.  Depending on what deficits that the survivor is faced with it’s main objective is to retrain the brain to do what may have come naturally before the brain injury.

Next – Discharge After Severe Brain Injury


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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