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Does Being in a Relationship Have an Impact on an Individual's Ability to Heal?

Does Being in a Relationship Have an Impact on an Individual's Ability to Heal?


Does being in a relationship have an impact on an individual's ability to heal?

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[Glenn Parkinson] So whether or not someone is in a relationship and how it impacts their ability to heal is really interesting. I think it has a lot to do with the health of that relationship. The longer someone has been either married or partnered with someone and the healthier that relationship is, a much more positive impact that can have on their ability to regain that sense of self-esteem and also for them to adapt. They usually have a lot more history with other sorts of challenges, and so they have an ability to kind of negotiate things and communicate about things. It's interesting—in the field of sexual health and disability in general— my understanding is that for many people it's easier to kind of negotiate and bounce back and form a new sense of sexual identity the younger you are because you actually have less personal history with your own sexual sense of yourself. So I think it really depends upon the individual person and what the nature of their relationship is like. But we know in general that recovery from injury of any kind— a brain injury, in particular— is hugely contingent upon the quality of social support that people have— whether they have a loving, supportive family that's able to both nurture them and challenge them to do things for themselves and to keep progressing, which is often a hard balance to strike. And then for people who are on their own, which unfortunately some of our service members are, it can be very challenging.

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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Glenn W. Parkinson, MSW, MAGlenn W. Parkinson, MSW, MA, Glenn Parkinson, MSW, MA works as the psychotherapist on the Traumatic Brain Injury service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She works with active duty and retired military personnel and their families specializing in combat-related injuries.

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