Skip to Main Content Skip to Sitemap

Goal Setting After a Brain Injury by Charles Watson


Posted on January 12, 2020

Goal setting is a part of the rehabilitation process between physiotherapists and their patients to ensure speedy and improved recovery. It can motivate as well as maximize patient engagement. A person with ABI or TBI may need to take into account changes in cognitive, physical, social, and behavioral abilities as well as communication skills that may act as barriers to successful goal setting and achievement. 

The capacity to set and achieve even very small goals can be an important step towards regaining a sense of self-worth, confidence, and a place in the community after a severe injury.

Set challenging yet achievable goals

Unfair expectations and unrealistic goals will de-motivate you and force you to give up. Setting simple goals and working up gradually towards more difficult ones will help you achieve the once seemingly impossible ones.

After an injury, simple tasks need to be relearned, and regular practice is needed to perform these tasks well, such as taking a shower or running simple errands. As energy levels improve, fitness goals can be pursued, like walking and simple exercises to improve motor control.  

Plan your goals, take one step at a time

Now that you know your goal, it’s time to plan it out. Write down on a piece of paper and cross off things as you achieve each step. Take small steps by breaking down each goal into steps that you can manage. 

The goal may be to go for a walk which can be divided into many components like:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Standing up without support
  • Changing clothes
  • Gathering cell phone and keys
  • Putting your walking shoes on
  • Leaving the house
  • Taking a brisk walk. 

It’s important to remember that mastering and executing each step and not worrying about the completion of all the steps is the key to success. 

Be kind and flexible

After a brain injury, goal setting requires time and practice. Through trial and error, be flexible with the change of plans. Remember, there will be good days and there will be bad and some goals may be achieved earlier than others. Re-evaluate your goals - you may even revisit them later and break certain steps into easier doable ones.

Setting small and easy goals does not mean that you have lost sight of your long-term goals. But, when you are recovering from a brain injury, making it through each day is a task in itself. Hence, it is very important to be flexible and kind to yourself. 

Developing support systems

Attending support groups and support from family and friends can help in achieving difficult goals. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be very upsetting, and a brain injury support group can be really helpful. When people with similar experiences share their struggles, you can relate to them. And they too, will be better able to understand and guide you in making your goals more practical and manageable.

For a brain injury victim, developing a positive outlook on life is essential to help with the healing process.