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Good days, bad days. Everyone has them. No one minds the good days, but those bad days can be such headaches. Maybe you didn’t sleep well the previous night. Perhaps your children were sick and were thoughtful enough to pass their germs on to you. Those bad days pose a regular struggle that we can only push through. However, sometimes bad days have potential to knock traumatic brain injury and stroke survivors to emotional low points markedly lower than anything experienced in their lives prior to the injury experience.
Often, patients will apologize to their therapists when they are having bad days, even though they would not feel the need to do so when going through a similar bad day at a job in their pre-injury lives. In reality, no apology is truly necessary. Having good days and bad days is not only a natural part of life, but is just as natural a component of the journey to recovery. The progress of a healthy recovery can usually be observed to resemble that of a healthy stock market. We can track plenty of ups and downs, but a general upward trend is just as persistently evident.
On rare occasions, a patient may ask a therapist if he or she can skip a session because he or she is having a bad day. Unless the patient is deemed unable to participate in therapy by a facility nurse or doctor, the patient will be strongly encouraged to engage in therapy. This can be a bit confusing for patients. After all, why shouldn’t they be able to skip rehabilitation when having a particularly bad day? I will explain some of the logic involved in having patients stay in therapy even on those bad days.
First, as stated earlier, bad days are a natural part of life. Therapists know that on some days a patient will simply be unable to contribute that normal 100% effort. This is fine. Advances in therapy can be made even on bad days. A therapist will always take a patient’s best effort, whether it be that patient’s best 80%, best 60% or even a 40% effort. Every step forward in rehabilitation is a step in the right direction. Second, it is important to remember that every activity in rehabilitation is aimed at facilitating success following discharge. At home, just like in rehabilitation, there will be good and bad days. Survivors need to be just as prepared to handle bad days at home as they are to handle the good ones. For example, a patient may not want to work on hand skills necessary to use adaptive flatware on a bad day. But what is that patient going to do when he or she is hungry at home on a bad day? Will the patient not eat because he or she is having a bad day? Good day or bad day, the same skills will be used to succeed at home and therefore they need to be practiced both on good days and bad days in therapy.
So don’t worry about having a bad day. Just give therapy your best effort, even if on that day your best effort is only 40%!
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute.