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Health Information and Tools > After Brain Injury > Changes After a Brain Injury > Thinking and Memory >  After Brain Injury Guide: Changes in Planning Skills
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Changes After a Brain Injury

Changes in Planning Skills

Many people with a brain injury find it hard to plan, begin, and finish an activity. He may seem like he’s not interested, not motivated, or even depressed; this isn’t usually done on purpose.

He may not be able to think ahead. He may lack follow-through to finish a task. His thinking may be disorganized and incomplete. This may show up as repetitive movements or comments.

He may act impulsively by doing something quickly, without thinking. He may also need a lot of time to understand information and respond the right way.

Tips to help with planning

  • When possible, have him help with household chores (as much as he can do). Things like setting the table, washing the dishes, or preparing a salad need planning but may be familiar enough to him that he can do the task. Help only when he needs it.
  • Use a checklist so that he can check off each step of a task as he does it.
  • Break down the task into small steps and give guidance at each step. For example, when making a salad, tell him to prepare the lettuce. When this is done, tell him how to make the dressing, and so on.
  • Reduce distractions, reduce the demands, and give him extra time to problem-solve.
  • He might be able to finish a task if you prompt him. Clearly and briefly explain the activity before he starts.
  • Limit distractions, such as noise or too much equipment on the table.
  • Give instructions or directions slowly to give him time to understand and respond.
  • Routines and schedules outlining future events help him organize better. Set a time to do these tasks in.
  • Use a calendar so he can see what is coming up so he can get ready for it.

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