The life-changing effects of brain injury are many and varied and will be unique to each survivor. As people begin to adapt to a new life after brain injury it’s often tempting to focus on what has been lost, but in some cases, survivors discover that they have developed a new skill or passion in something that would have been quite unexpected pre-injury.
We asked members of our online communities whether they have found a new skill or ‘superpower’ since sustaining a brain injury (not the Hollywood examples of flying or spider-like climbing abilities that might initially spring to mind!).
The responses show some interesting themes, a trend in heightened senses, and an ability to adapt and see life through a new lens, which cuts out the many stresses and expectations of pre-injury life. Indeed, many people highlighted a sense of freedom from daily stresses that they experienced pre-injury, and in turn, an increase in creativity.
“Weirdly I found a freedom, from the rat race, from thinking I have to live my life a certain way,” said @finding_ your_new_normal on Instagram.
Jo Mathia’s son suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago. She added: “Despite his injuries he is happy as can be and, in some ways, a better person than before.”
On Instagram, @futuretoolbox commented: “I’ve found that I can live life on my terms more now. After having to adapt to changes with fatigue, concentration, and memory issues, it’s made me become more creative and entrepreneurial. It’s not always easy but I prefer it to the old rat race.”
Other fascinating superpowers that people shared include finding a passion in classical singing, writing poetry and songs, painting, gardening, and wildlife spotting.
Pete Bourne developed a more creative side following his brain injury. He started writing poems and ended up with a song. Others found themselves discovering a new interest in things that they were previously uninterested in, or even feared.
Lynn Boyle had a fear of animals and flying before her aneurysm. Both fears completely vanished after her surgery, and she now loves to pet dogs and other animals. She wrote: “I have no explanation as I know it was in my cavernous sinus, but I imagine that, if you have faced emergency brain surgery, nothing else can ever scare you."
Memory problems are one of the most common and often debilitating effects of brain injury, but several survivors reported an enhancement to at least some aspects of their memory.
Roy Burton refers to his “very enhanced memory from years before the head injury”, and Anthony Potter agrees:
“I struggle to explain to my wife how I can remember stupid stuff from my childhood, but struggle to remember even important more recent events - including my wedding!
“I now get so many people asking about local events from years ago; I am at the moment helping someone write a book about some of the things I remember.”
It surprised us to find that one of the most common ‘superpower’ examples that came out of this conversation was a change in some people’s hearing post-brain injury. Below is part of a conversation thread that gives a great insight into this particular change:
“My husband’s hearing has got super acute since his TBI he can hear things that nobody else hears until about 3 or 4 minutes later.” (Julie Vye-Parminter)
“My daughter’s hearing is exactly the same!” (Sinead Magee)
“It’s like I have superpowers now since my brain aneurysm as my senses are heightened, I hate noise especially motor bikes and drilling now.” (Deborah Johnston)
For one person in our online community, @amba_bollo_boosh, there was a definite superpower that she saw in her husband after his brain injury but he hadn’t recognised. She shared: “My husband says ’no, unfortunately not’. I disagree, he is 14 years a survivor and that was a miracle in itself.”
It is fair to say that’s an experience shared by many people. Even if it’s hard to see everyday life as an achievement let alone a superpower, the small victories and battles faced every day by all brain injury survivors and their loved ones are far more impressive than those of even the most heroic of Marvel heroes! Thank you to everyone who contributed their experiences to help build this article and do keep sharing on our social media channels.
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