How to become a “ Overachiever” in Neuro Rehab / Stroke Rehabilitation


There are “OVERACHIEVERS” in every industry. Including in Neuro rehab. Experts consider these the “outliers”. The ones who did what others couldn’t. They recover more movement than expected.  Overachievers have a different gear.  And truth be told, it is not one that is fully understood.  In its simplest form, it is a mindset.  If we zoom out, you might say it is an entire way of being.  Yes, this group, in fact, is different. They talk differently, behave differently, and live…..differently. These are the outliers. The “cases” science can’t explain, so how do they do it? Beyond that, how do you do it? How do you tap into that next gear? How do YOU become an OVERACHIEVER

Accept, Adapt and Overcome

High achievers have the ability to get to a place of acceptance faster than most people. Losing a part of your old life is a difficult. It’s normal to grieve this loss. But the ones who seem to excel in rehab, just have a way of getting through this grief process a little faster.

I have a cousin, who was involved in an automobile accident in 1995, which left him paralyzed from the waist down, and in a wheelchair.  My cousin is one is the most independent people I know.  While in Rehab, just after his accident, there was a gentleman looking at him from across the room, and the gentleman was crying.  My cousin went over to see if he could help.  The gentleman, who was a quadriplegic, said with tears streaming down his face, "you can use your arms."  I think that may have been a driving force for my cousin.  He is independent, lives on his own, without homecare or assistance, has a new Toyota 4 Runner, is co-owner in a Hunting Lodge in Northern Ontario, and has an Automatic 4 Wheeler or ATV that he hunts from. 

Now you know where I shot my bear in the picture.

After his accident, I would take him Bear Hunting, fishing for Atlantic Salmon and Cod fish back in Newfoundland, when he would visit.  I had to make some adjustments on how we did things, but we made it work.  Now he made some adjustments, and with the help of family and friends, they made it work for me

Self Efficacy

Self efficacy is a belief in yourself and your ability to succeed at whatever goal you set for yourself.  People believe that this comes natural for some, but others need to learn, or adapt.  This is extremely difficult to do following a Neurological Injury from a sudden Car accident or a Stroke, but being aware of what you need to do to get to the next level of your Recovery is crucial.

When I was in Stroke Rehab, I wanted out of that Wheelchair, and to be able to walk again.  But in order to walk, I first needed to be able to get out of the wheelchair safely, which was a chore, because I kept forgetting to set the brake.  Once I had that down, I started practicing "Sit to Stands", holding onto a rail, or other bolted down objects to keep my balance.  Then I would practice lifting my hand off the rail to stand on my own. 


People that make the most progress in neuro rehab take full ownership of their situation. Not just their home exercises, but their overall health. 

Once out of Rehab, I was at home and we asked for a PT to work with me, to which he came by our house, accessed me and gave me specific challenging Exercises to do several times a day.  I did these exercises several times everyday, actually more then he recommended.  About a month later, there was a knock at our front door.  The PT dropped by unannounced, to see how I was doing.  He asked me to perform the exercises for him, to which I did.  I told him that I did these exercises everyday, even weekends.  His reply.  I know you are, we can always tell who is, and who is not following the program we put in place.  He said your improvement is incredible.  However, I didn't see any improvement, but you will be the LAST person to see your improvement.  So you will be your biggest critic, that's normal.

Future Focus

The ones who continue to make progress, even years after their injury are future focused.  In most cases, these people have a tendency to always be working toward the next life event. For some this is a vacation.  For others it might be a family gathering, or a visit with a friend.  Whatever the case may be, they always seem to have a new goal. 

In my Stroke recovery, I knew where I wanted to be in 5 years, not 5 days, weeks or even months.  I wanted to walk again, to be able to walk around our neighborhood by myself.  Independence.

Five years post stroke, I now walk between 3-5 kilometers a day, weather permitting, donated my wheelchair to our church, got married, got back into Black Bear Hunting, with the help of my wife, family and friends, now I am trying to get my drivers license back, and started JGH Rehab with the help of my wife, which is now my new Career.

But it all started with remembering to set the BRAKE on my wheelchair. 

Set your goal, once you achieve that goal, set another one.  Aim for the Stars, because if you miss, you may still hit the moon.


Finding “purpose” in life can be a complicated matter.  Find your PURPOSE, and never lose sight of it.

Extrinsic Goals

And finally, almost every person in this group has some sort of EXTRINSIC goal. What that means by that is that they have something they want to accomplish that might enhance someone else’s life. For some, it is to return to work so they can provide for their family. For others it is to walk so they can dance with their Bride at their wedding.  When I was in Continuing Care, Jane told me that she would marry me when I could dance with her at our wedding, to which I did one year later.  I like to think that by marrying her, I enhanced her life, but on most days she would disagree, as do I, because some would say, it is quite the opposite.  They are correct.

Whatever the case may be, if you want to go farther than the rest, establish a goal outside yourself.  AIM FOR THE STARS, MAYBE YOU WILL MISS AND HIT THE MOON, either way, you moved forward, which at the end of the day is farther then you were yesterday, last week, month or last year.