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Go at Your Own Pace When Returning to School After a Brain Injury

Go at Your Own Pace When Returning to School After a Brain Injury

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[Kelli Williams Gary, PhD] Encouraging words for individuals that have attempted to try to go back to school after brain injury but have not been successful is that it can be done, but it might not be able to be done the way that you might have pursued it prior to your head injury or your brain injury. So it's important to really understand and—even get an actual assessment about what your limitations are. That might even guide you in your selection of what major you would maybe pursue. If you have problems with math, which is very common for a lot of people after brain injuries, you might not want to major in accounting. Look at other options. There are a lot of different majors out here. Do not go with what you think might be common or what you might have liked in the past. Look at other options of other things that you could pursue that would be more useful to you now that you understand what your limitations are—but don't give up. Don't—I think that's the most encouraging thing. It's going to be frustrating. It's really hard when you used to learn a certain way and you have to alter your whole sense of learning and thinking because of your inability to do certain things, but those neural synapses and those things that were changed because of your brain injury—you can build new ones. So the more you learn, the more you learn how to do things in a new way.

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Speaking from personal experience, Kelli Gary, PhD knows how difficult and frustrating it can be to have to learn to study and think in entirely different ways. "But don't give up," she says. "It can be done!"

See more video clips with Kelli Williams Gary, PhD.


Produced by Sharon Ladin, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.

Kelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/LKelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/L is an assistant professor in the department of occupational therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in 1991.

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