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Community Skills and Brain Injury

Most patients participate in community activities on a daily basis. Schedules may include activities, such as going to work, school, the grocery store, post office, out to eat, recreational activities, and buying gasoline. These activities require the use of physical capacities, communication, cognitive processes, and perceptual awareness.

Impairments from a brain injury aren't the only difficulties a patient may encounter when re-entering the community. Environmental factors can also interfere with performance. Factors may include: noise, movement, visual distractions, various types of lighting, crowds, and the demands of certain situations.

Some techniques can be used to help the patient be more independent. For example, lists can compensate for memory impairments. Shopping may be done in the early morning or on weekdays to avoid busy store times. Supervision or assistance may be necessary to ensure that community activities are resumed safely.

Functioning in the Community

Problems that may not be evident in the more controlled routine of the rehabilitation hospital may become more obvious in situations where demands increase, such as in the community. Visual, perceptual, and vestibular problems can make a person unsafe in the community. Some problems a person who has a brain injury might experience include:

  • Not seeing street signs
  • Not noticing cars when crossing the street
  • Tripping on curbs
  • Bumping into other people or objects 

Topographical Orientation

Topographical orientation is knowing where one is, and how to get from one place to another. It can involve the use of signs, landmarks, or maps. A person may have difficulty with location or reading signs because of visual and perceptual problems. This may result in trouble figuring out or remembering how to get from one place to another.

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