10 Keys to Recovery: For the Brain Injury Survivor and Their Caregiver:

KEY TO RECOVERY NO. 5: Do Everything in Moderation/Regain Mobility.

Just before we brought David home from the rehabilitation center, he weighed an alarming 89 pounds. They had not removed the G-tube from his stomach as we had asked them to do, so he was able to eat normal food without supplemental feedings.

In my quest to fatten him up, I encouraged him to eat, and eat he did. My brother-in-law had warned me that he might gain weight and to be cautious, but I did not heed his warning. In a matter of months, David had gained a staggering 40 pounds and he needed clothes to accommodate this condition.

David was never big on exercise before his accident, so it was no surprise when he didn’t like the exercise programs my sister came up with. We got around this by inventing things to do around his normal therapy sessions. A wonderful woman gifted us a kayak paddle that was used to stretch his arms over his head, as there was right side deficits. He folded clothes, took my sister’s dog for a walk, washed dishes by hand, and for lack of things to do, even made him take things out of one cupboard to put them into another.

Headaches were an issue at first and they followed a pattern. Trying to analyze just when these headaches would show up, we determined that if David exerted himself too much, he’d have a headache. But he does like to be busy so we devised ways to make him move and that’s where moderation comes in.

I didn’t sign David up at the Y – or a gym, because too much exertion could lead to other things; frustration, over stimulation, or the onset of a headache. We slowly got David off the sofa and out into the world. It takes time and patience, but now he bowls on a league, rides a therapeutic horse at Naples Equestrian Challenge, attends our monthly support group and social events for Miracles Among Us, does volunteer work, and socializes with the Friends for the Developmentally Disabled. I’d say he’s come a long way on his road to recovery, however, his Aphasia doesn’t allow for conversation. He has a job two afternoons a week and he is saving for a new watch.