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Family Voices and Familiar Stories Can Make a Real Difference for TBI Patients

Family Voices and Familiar Stories Can Make a Real Difference for TBI Patients September 11, 2021

Christopher and his Grandma in deep conversation when he was a little boy.

My wife Mariko shared an article she read about how family members retelling familiar stories can make a difference for someone who has endured a traumatic brain injury:

Coma patients who heard familiar stories repeated by family members four times a day for six weeks, via recordings played over headphones, recovered consciousness significantly faster and had an improved recovery compared to patients who did not hear the stories, reports the study. (Here’s the link to the article)

Mariko asked if I could share a recording of Grandpa or Grandma speaking. I have kept several voice mail messages of my late Mom on my phone system so I can review them from time to time. So, I shared a few of them with Christopher last night. As soon as I played the messages, Christopher’s eyes and face became more alert.

Christopher is no longer in a coma. A neurologist indicated a few months ago that he had transitioned to a minimally conscious state. We see signs that such is still the case.

We share stories with Christopher, but we will share the same stories repeatedly. Stories of memorable trips and tales of adventures come to mind. Stories about times with family.

The study also indicated that someone experiences a traumatic brain injury every five seconds in the US. That detail was staggering to Mariko and me. Given all the isolation in our society, given how seldom people visit patients in care facilities, what familiar voices will be there to tell familiar stories to anyone of us if we endure a traumatic brain injury?

To tell familiar stories, we need to live and cherish time with others. While it is true that familiarity can breed contempt if we get to know someone really well, sometimes such familiarity results from taking them for granted. Familiar voices and familiar stories can make a real difference, not indifference, if we treasure those closest to us.

I pray that the voices and stories of Grandma and Grandpa will bring healing to Christopher. In the meantime, I can assure you, just listening to their memorable voices and telling familiar stories to my son helps bring healing to me.

To see the various updates regarding Christopher and our family journey, please go here. Thank you.

About Paul Louis Metzger
Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D., is Professor of Theology & Culture, Multnomah University & Seminary; Director of The Institute for Cultural Engagement: New Wine, New Wineskins; and Author and Editor of numerous works, including The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town and Evangelical Zen: A Christian's Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend. You can read more about the author here.

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