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The Role of Emotional Support In Healing Among Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

Updated on November 2, 2014
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has performed many psychological & physical evaluations for health agencies, industrial commissions, attorneys and insurers.


Gabby Giffords, although she gave up set in the US Legislature, is proving what we learned in the late 1980s. After injury, the brain continues to heal throughout the lifespan. Ms. Giffords is a living miracle as an example of that phenomenon and it is jaw dropping to see her progress. She is providing hope to many people, brain injured or not.

Gabbie Giffords Skydives in 2014

Progress: January 2011 to September 2012

Valentines for Life

The American love story of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly rivals that of Australia's Steve and Terri Irwin.

Terri flew from Oregon all the way to Australia on vacation, she watched his animal demo and went with friends to meet him, their eyes met, and both felt love at first sight. They spent the next and only 15 years of their relationship together, in devotion, love, and a working partnership such as I've never witnessed before or since.

Gabby is a legislator and Mark is an astronaut. Though she was shot in the head on January 8, 2011, they agreed together less than a month later that he would return to train for and fly his upcoming US Space Shuttle mission. She was so much recovered that he could leave the planet. Prior to this decision, he had sat steadfastly at her bedside, encouraging her. See details at:

Supportive Relationships

Steve & Me
Steve & Me

When Terri Raines was twenty-seven years old, she took a vacation that changed her life. Leaving behind her wildlife rescue work in Oregon, Terri traveled to Australia, and there, at a small wildlife park, she met and fell in love with a tall, blond force of nature named Steve Irwin.



Quick recovery from an open head trauma is unusual and may result from a variety of causes:

  • Physicians have told me that the human body heals itself, while the physicians lend a little aid.
  • Sometimes the body heals quickly and we do not know the reason (spontaneous remissions in cancer and other conditions). Sometimes it dies and we cannot find a reason.
  • Ms. Giffords may have turned away from the shooter at an angle that allowed a bullet to pass through her brain without injuring vital, irreparable sections.
  • Human brains contain much more tissue than the human uses, sometimes allowing other areas of the organ to pick up and continue where damaged areas fail. Sometimes this happens more quickly; sometimes these other areas activate as various therapies train them.
  • Healthier bodies help the brain heal faster than unhealthy bodies. Synapses can be increased in number through concentration/focus exercises, computer based drills, elementary relaxation/meditation exercises, certain music genres, physical exercises, and other activities. (See my first related article at the link above for more information on exercise and the brain.)
  • Ms. Giffords received fast transport and immediate emergency and followup healthcare.
  • Ms. Giffords was constantly surrounded by friends, family, and coworkers that talked to her, touched her, and made her aware of attention, love and support. Her husband sat with her constantly for weeks. Stimulation and a strong support system can speed recovery. In fact, certain cultures dictate that the extended family of a patient be in the hospital room in order that the patient might heal among that support. An uplifting memorial service and service of hope was held for the victims of the shooting that hurt Gabby in Tucson AZ. It honored the everyday heroes that helped save her and others from death. it celebrated her survival and future recovery.
  • Positive attitude, faith, and a quality of resilience can speed healing.



Love as a Source of Healing

I was studying breast cancer survival rates in the late 1990s. I learned that the Number One positive effect in the lives of female breast cancer patients leading to their survival for at least 5 years after successful treatment (at that time) was the emotional support of a spouse.

This was such a large effect, that it was promoted in the comic strip Funky Winkerbean, in which Les Moore's wife Lisa was a breast cancer survivor. I added the comic strip from that day to a study packet I used for teaching a related class that afternoon.

Breast cancer survivors are often thriving for 10 years and longer in the 2010s, but in the 1990s, 5 years was a long time to live and love was the key.

Did love help Gabby Giffords recover quickly? I look forward to her speaking about that question in the future.

"Prayer is not an old woman´s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action." - Mahatma Gandhi

Group Support

An early study of cancer patients and prayer in the 1980s (a decade of mind-body focus) split a large number of patients into treatment groups:

  1. No treatment
  2. Standard allopathic medical treatment
  3. Number 2 above, with friends and church members praying for the patient's recovery. The patient did not know about the prayers.
  4. Number 3 above, with the patient praying for recovery and knowledge of other prayers.

At the end of the study term, the positive results of recovery among the groups were significant between each group and, in order of most healings/tumor shrinkages to least healings/tumor shrinkages were:

  • 4 - Treatment, prayer, and everyone knew about the prayers.
  • 3 - Number 2 below, with friends and church members praying for the patient's recovery. The patient did not know about the prayers.
  • 2 - Standard allopathic medical treatment
  • 1 - No treatment

NOTE: Numerous subsequent studies into the effects of prayer related to cancer have found either positive effects or no effects, about equally on both sides. A thorough meta analysis would help us decide the significance.


Some individuals discount the efficacy of prayer, but a roomful of people praying generates a lot of electricity, which can have healing effects itself. A Cable TV channel often reruns a show about a female MS victim that wheeled herself in her wheelchair into the bathroom to draw a bath during a rainstorm. As she touched the faucet, lightning struck it and surged through her, knocking her out of the chair and unconscious onto the floor. When her husband found her later, she awakened and could walk. Visits to her physician showed no trace of MS.

A similar event occurred during a Kathryn Kuhlman healing service during WWII. A serviceman strapped into a wheelchair with leather straps sat against a pillar. During a prayer, lightening struck the building, traveled through the pillar and into the veteran, throwing him out of the chair through broken straps and onto the floor. He was able to stand up and walk. Reports say that he ran.

I know that many people were praying for Ms. Giffords. Many feel that prayer and a miracle are at work in her recovery.

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Comments: Valentines and Science

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Ms. Giffords' recovery seems to be progressing steadily. At a recent awards ceremony to recognize her, she had her mother speak for her, though. Some days the whole body and mind must stop and rest. The injured or ill that do not have such wonderful people in their lives as Gabby's family might not progress as well.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting,Pamela99!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      After seeing this hub posted on Pininterest I knew I had not read this hub and it is certainly worth reading. Mrs. Gifford is an amazingly strong woman and her recovery has certainly been amazing. I also think the love component effect for any disease can make a huge difference, along with a positive mental attitude. Wonderful hub.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Patty, absolutely lovely. I believe that a postitve mental attitude, love, and the support of family and friends can work miracles.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @Hello, hello - It is surprising that the people that were struck by lightning were healed and not killed, isn't it? I hope someone is studying it more closely for answers. I must say that there has been so much charge in the air during some church services that my hair stood up, on back of neck and arms. I saw aparks.

      @Earth Angel - These relationships are so encouraging. They give the world one kind of hope.

      @susannah42 - I agreed with you ; we taught a lot of physical rehab patients just that.

      @Darlenwe - Love is magic when we find it anywhere. It is a miracle as you indicate.

      @L.L. - Right! We may never understand it all, but it is awesome.

      @earthbound 1974 - Thanks for your sentiments as well! Love is powerful as you say it is!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      I am glad i red some more news and how Gabby getting on. That is the trouble with news, they are here today and you never read or hear a follow-up.

      Regarding these electrical shock resulting into complete cure. Would there not a possibility for curing these sort of illnesses with high voltage or is it too dangerous?

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 6 years ago

      Ahhhhhhhh, what a lovely Valentine Love Story dear Patty!

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      Early after Gabby was shot I felt her husband would be able to captain the last shuttle! Yes, LOVE does play such an important part in healing!

      Thanks for the heart-warming Hub Valentine!

      YOU are the BEST!

      Blessings always, EarthAngel!

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      I have always found that a positive attitude and a mental determination to overcome illness really helps. Good hub. thanks

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      There are so many things about the human condition and this world that science alone cannot explain. Most intriguing.

    • earthbound1974 profile image

      earthbound1974 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Love defies all the tangible things in this world. It knows no barriers. Thanks for sharing, Patty!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Awesome Patty, love yes and I agree about Teri and Steve. Love can give a light step to your walk, almost like a skipping of joy. Your heart heals from past events when you are in love. Without love you are nothing and many people today can't trust, the planet has changed yet love will also fix that change. Love this hub, it perfect rate up love & peace darski