Dealing with plateau’s

Recovery can be a hard slog. It can have many twists and turns, ebbs and flows, highs and lows. There will be times when it feels like the improvements are really noticeable and consistent, and then there will be periods where it feels like nothing is improving or perhaps you feel like you have gone backwards. These times, for many (myself included), are the most frustrating! Well, I’m right here now, so I thought I would share with you my tips for getting through the ‘plateau’ stage. Firstly, experiencing a plateau is completely normal and expected. Here’s why. Immediately after injury, the brain goes into a “heightened state of plasticity”. What this means is that when the damage first occurs, the brain┬áreacts by temporarily making it easier for itself to reorganise (called spontaneous recovery). It just happens. So, you may have or are, experiencing rapid improvement and then after a time (generally after 3 months), the brain reverts back to a less pliable, but still plastic state (see┬áneuroplasticity or brain plasticity). This can be frustrating to say the least, but it doesn’t mean that further improvement is not possible. There is also something that is called “diminishing returns”, which all of us experience in life, and brain injury recovery is no different. Take for example, learning to paint – you go to your first class and you will leave knowing 10 times more things about painting than when you first arrived. Now, fast forward to a year of painting classes – the difference in ability between your 90th and 95th painting is going to be much smaller than the first 5 painting you did. This is because when we first learn something, there will be a stage of rapid improvement (called rapid spontaneous progress) as we learn new skills and … More