Retraining what needs help

Note: From here on out, I’ll be adding memory and reasoning training to my posts.

It makes no sense for me to have hundreds of readers every day who are looking for TBI recovery solutions, and NOT offer them something to grow stronger. Here’s the first exercise, which you’ll complete when you’re at the end of this post. Get a pencil and paper (you may need to erase and redraw some of the lines) and at the end of this post, you’ll draw the image below on your own.

Here’s your first memory exercise – Study this image for as long as you want. Memorize the shapes… and after you’re done reading this post, draw it by memory on a piece of paper.

Gotta work it

So, I had my session with the brain trainer yesterday, and it was interesting. They brought a bunch of puzzles and tests with them to try out a bunch of different areas where I’ve said I need help.

  • Screening out distractions and staying focused on the task at hand.
  • Remembering things over time and not “losing” them when other things get me thinking in other completely different directions.
  • Being able to sort through multiple choices and differentiate between things in a logical way.
  • Reducing my impulsivity.

That last one is a biggie.

But the other ones are pretty important, as well.

A lot of the tests were visual — connecting dots in a certain way, as well as doing word comparisons and combinations. There were pattern-matching exercises, as well as numerical progression puzzles. I had the hardest time with some of the dot exercises, which were surprisingly challenging. I understand there are lots and lots more of them, which I can imagine would get maddening after a while. I got tired on the dots — more tired than on the others.

One area, in particular, was very revealing — I completely missed a couple of totally obvious answers. Although they were identical to the answers of questions immediately prior to them, the way they were presented was different, and I was rigidly thinking about the cues that I had used before.


And telling.

All in all, I did pretty well. But the main objective of the training is not to find out how I perform on a scale relative to others, rather to determine how well I can adapt my strategies and come up with other options in my problem-solving. It’s all about learning how to learn. Sharpening your reasoning and differentiation abilities and coming up with creative solutions in the face of challenges.

So, I clearly need some work in flexible thinking. It sounds like really basic work, at a very simple level, however it turned out harder than I expected.

Based on my experience, I’ll be following up with this trainer in August, once my new job is settled and I have an idea about my schedule. My new job will actually put me significantly closer to the trainer, so it will be easier for me to meet with them, than it is now. I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into this, and they are reasonable, so I can save up my money over time to meet with them.

So yes, that was good. And I’m feeling really, really hopeful about the chances of turning around my deficits by conscious practice. I don’t feel quite as “stuck” as I have over the past months of being told that 5 of my 6 deficits remain unchanged after years of rehab. Then again, my focus in that work has been on the one area where I have seen massive progress. So, if I work at the rest of them — in a slightly different way than before — I have hope that I can improve there, too.

Speaking of conscious practice, grab that pencil and paper, and draw from memory the graphic at the top of this post. No peeking. If you’re not satisfied with how you rendered it, study it again in more depth, focusing on the areas where you messed up, and then try again.

I did this exercise yesterday with a graphic that seemed simple enough to me, but after two tries, I had still not gotten the whole picture 100% correct. This is not about perfection… it’s about progress. Of course, if you get it 100% right the first time, then you’ll need more challenging tasks.




Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

2 thoughts on “Retraining what needs help”

  1. Very cool! Thanks for creating the graphic and your plans to do more and share them with others!

    We did some auditory processing exercises in the past, which were audiotapes that required using working memory. The easier tapes were those that were just simple tapping a button when you heard a number out of a series of numbers that you were being asked to determine. As an example, tap every time you hear a two. Then the listening (and tapping) was done for a couple of minutes while the reader in a slow, monotonous voice read a list of numbers. This then progressed to a faster speed and really helped with paying attention and not losing focus. It progressed to the working memory aspect where the listener would need to perform a math equation while listening to the series of numbers. For example, add 3. So the numbers would be called and you would need to tap the button if the next number was a sum of the previous number plus 3. This was done fast and slow. Another modiciation was subtracting a number. Or tapping when either of two numbers, such as 5 and 9 were called. The hardest of the exercises was to do one of the secondary manipulations while there was another monotonous reading of an old newspaper article in the background. It was quite challenging to focus on the number manipulations required while blocking out the distraction. Quite a good exercise. It was one that frustrated the heck out if my daughter, but made it possible for her to reenter the school environment.

    We also did lots of dot-to-dot pages in books published by David Kalvitis. We originally found them at barnes and noble, but later purchased some on amazon to get more variety. As part of the exercise, we would also guess as she worked on the drawing to determine what the object was. We would write the number down of the point at which we would make any guesses and see if we could get it right as more of the image was completed and during or changing perception of the images.

    Anyways, your post today reminded me of other activities we has done last summer and I thought maybe adding this information in the commwnts might help someone out there with developing their own tools and tasks. Maybe mp3 or wmv files can be made so we can share audio processing tasks anyone makes; or other items. We could not afford a lot, and it is great to see a grassroots effort of helping one another.

    (As an aside, I am typing on my phone and “helping” autocorrected to “healing”—makes me think about that connection and the connection among all the readers of this blog—we are not alone in our journeys though our injuries may be different.


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