Is recovery possible?

Brain injury differs from all other kinds of injury that people can get. The consequences of brain injury are different for every one. Some people have very little consequences. Others loose awareness of being alive. Full recovery is possible, but rarely occurs.


There are no percentages and figures about people wíth and wíthout residual effects. What is known is that there are always broken axons (brain connections) and that brain cells have possibly died.


The influence of the injured cells and connections depends on the nature and the location of the injury but for example also on the overall health of the injured person. Some functions are much easier restored than others.


Maybe this is because these functions are easily adopted by other areas that are uninjured.  In some areas of the brain, allthough up to 95 % of the connections are broken, still more or less normal performance can be seen. A little bit more injury, however, can be catastrophic.

It has been shown that very few people completely recover from brain injury. It is not like a disease for which recovery is possible. ABI professionals (neurologists and neuropsychologists) know all about it. It is also found that recovery can continue for a long time. Years after the injury originated recovery may still occur.


Doctors do not dare make any predictions about the extent to which recovery of brain injury is possible. It is known that the following factors possibly influence the extent to which recovery is possible.


Note! None of these factors is all decisive. For example, about the third factor (motivation / perseverance) there is a Dutch expression meaning ‘If you want something, you can do it’. This expression is not applicable to people having brain injury. Motivation / perseverance alone is not enough and too much of it can cause exhaustion!


Some of the factors are trainable, but many are not.

  • Condition of the brain and medical history.

Has the brain been injured before? Have there been small infarcts? Diabetes, high blood pressure, poor blood, poor physical condition: an athlete probably has more chance of recovery than someone who hardly did any sport, excessive alcohol or drug use, had much anesthetic or depression, severe insomnia or lung problems in history.

  • Age: the younger you are, the more likely to recover.
  • Motivation: the will to fight you back. (But what is broken is broken).
  • The severity (size and location) of the injury.
  • The question whether a brain injury that involves something for which years of training is required. Something that has taken many years to develop will not be repaired in a short time. An example is: speech.