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SMART Goal Setting  by Charles Watson


Posted on January 20, 2020

Post-traumatic brain injury is a phase of life that demands a lot from you not only physically but mentally as well. At times you’ll even feel like you’re a dark center that sucks all the positivity from the room. This is the reason the victim is effectively rehabilitated if not in a rehabilitation center then at home and this is important to keep the patient sane and striving for better health. Psychological effects can alter the healing period a lot greatly that we can imagine. 

Goal Setting Criteria

Many studies and surveys later, doctors can safely say that a patient suffering from a brain injury heals better when he wills himself to do so; when he actively volunteers to set personal goals which have reportedly shown a satisfactory brain rehabilitation experience amongst patients. However, the whole discussion comes to a standstill at the point where the goals are to be implemented in real-life because, to be honest, it is easier said than done.

The main hindrance in implementation lies in the irrelevance of the goal to the concerned patient. If the patient is unable to relate to the goal, he will automatically feel less motivated to go through with it. Initially, clinicians used to draft goals for their patients. They might have been simple like going to a shop, but if the person is someone who would rather indulge in a peaceful walk to the park, he will definitely not be inclined to cooperate. 

It was then that rehabilitation specialists came up with the SMART technique – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This technique encompasses almost every aspect of healthy and motivating participation for a recovering patient of brain injury.

How to Draft a Realistic and Coherent Life Goal?

  • Goal-setting starts by answering the following three questions:
  • What activities would you like to go back to that have been affected by your brain injury?
  • What do you feel are your fields of weakness which you want to make easier since the injury?
  • When do you know you have healed enough to discontinue rehabilitation for good?

Common responses will include “going back to work” or “working on speech” or “improving balance.” Now to fit these simple long-term goals into the SMART criteria. Alter these goals to short-term manageable components connecting them to everyday activities. As stated above, rehabilitation is all about the patient’s willingness. Start by making the patient use the words ‘I will’ before each action they intend to perform. That way instead of “improving balance” you could say “I will walk from my bed to the opposite side of the room in 5 minutes.” Break this goal into sub-components like you will walk 8 out of 10 steps without support and then 5-6 out of the 10 steps should be in a line.

Measuring the Progress

Now to answer the final question. When do you know you’ve recovered? Studies have shown that a patient’s satisfaction is the best measure for his progress towards recovery. Clinicians have found a strong correlation between patient satisfaction in performance and goal achievement. It is highly important that the victim is satisfied when performing their everyday activities.

The SMART technique provides holistic principles to provide effective rehabilitation to brain injury victims.