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Poor Motivation

Physical Communication Cognitive Behavioural / Emotional

Motivation is a person’s reason for doing something and an enthusiastic person is said to be well motivated. After a brain injury some people do not feel enthusiastic about anything. They may lack any drive and be unable to initiate anything of their own accord. They may not want to do anything and may not want to leave the house. They may ‘channel surf’ in front of the television, or wander about aimlessly. Other people may appear to want to undertake a particular activity but be unable to get beyond an inability to plan and initiate the activity. Difficulties with an ability to initiate or start activity, and the ability to keep going to finish an activity or task is called adynamia.

Poor motivation can be very frustrating for friends and family and can lead to social isolation for the person suffering the brain injury. People may think that the poor motivation is due to ‘laziness’ rather than due to the effects of the brain injury.

Introducing a structured routine is a good way try to get the person to participate in, and complete activities and tasks. A structured routine decreases demand on memory and thinking skills. Checklists and prompts, for example on a mobile telephone, may assist as well as breaking down tasks into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. In more serious cases one to one support can help to ensure the person maintains focus and motivation to complete tasks.

A person is more likely to have motivation to complete a task if it is something they enjoy doing. Try to find activities that will appeal to the person with the brain injury that may be in relation to previous hobbies or something new they may want to try. Conversely, it may not be a good idea to try to get someone to do something they did not enjoy or want to do before the brain injury.

Consider alternating some less enjoyable tasks with more enjoyable tasks to maintain motivation. They can be considered as a ‘reward’ for completing the less enjoyable tasks. Offer choices in activities and participation in decision making to ‘engage’ the person in their activities. Knowing the person and their likes and dislikes is key to rediscovering motivation. The more positive and motivated you are, the more likely that the person with the brain injury will also be positive and motivated.


"Participation in teen sports and normal activities leads to improved quality of life for children and young people post brain injury and helps to maximise outcomes"
Claire Willis; Australia
"New parenting support intervention showed how parenting style is related to executive dysfunction in children and young people post brain injury. With support parents cope better so the child has a better recovery"
Andrea Palacio-Navarro; Spain
"We need to harness the power of brain plasticity for treating children and young people with brain injury. Stressful experiences alter brain development of a child, especially at the key ages of 0-3 and at ages 10-16"
Professor Bryan Kolb; Canada
"Families and professionals spend time focusing on the negative aspects of ABI. Families need to be properly supported as 'resilience' is key to delivering successful outcomes for children and young people."
Roberta De Pompeii; USA
"When different organisations assess different aspects of a child's neuro-rehabilitation needs, everyone looks at things from a different perspective and highlight needs and conflicting priorities"
Cathy Jonson; Rehab without Walls; United Kingdom.
"Healthy teens are better at identifying strategies to deal with barriers. KIDS WITH ABI'S CAN'T!"
Shari Wade; USA
"Parent-supported interventions following pediatric ABI bring reductions to the cost to society"
Eric Hermans; Netherlands
"Strength-based family intervention after pediatric ABI is essential. Parents need to be equipped with the skills to cope and advocate for the child."
Caron Gan; Canada
"We would like to see earlier identification and support for children with brain injuries to help them succeed in school."
Dalton Leong; Chief Executive of the Children's Trust
"Too often children and young people with ABI are discharged from hospital without specialist brain support that they and their families need to overcome lifelong challenges"
Andrew Ross; former Chief Executive of the Children's Trust

OUR MISSION: To work to remove (health) inequalities for children & young people affected by acquired brain injury; and provide effective support to their families that makes a real difference.

Council for Disabled Children Lottery Funded