Families who have a loved one with a brain injury are often overwhelmed, devastated and struggling with loss, and need support to make it through one of life’s most difficult situations. It is important to have access to the resources and support available to you.
According to the Alabama Head Injury Foundation (AHIF), more than 10,000 individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. The question is, where can these individuals and those caring for them turn for assistance? What resources are available? Who can answer their questions? What services are provided to aid victims through the recovery process?
The AHIF has resource coordinators you can contact to get assistance with home modification, securing disability payments, securing medical equipment, support meetings, respite care for caregivers and other important services. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAUSA) has a number of resources for family members and caregivers to help them understand more about what lies ahead, as well as how to manage stress and cope with long-term issues. Other resources include Share the Care™ and BrainLine.org.
It is devastating to have a loved one who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury. The future may hold months or years of recovery and treatment, and it is often a very slow process. People who have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury can have many difficulties, including memory loss, deep fatigue, emotional ups and downs, headaches and ongoing trouble in every aspect of life.
Potential long-term consequences of a traumatic brain injury can include personality changes, anxiety, depression, angry outbursts and other emotional problems. The physical repercussions often include ringing in the ears, nausea, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and sound, among others.
More serious cases of brain injury often require surgery to release the pressure on the brain. Families are thrown into fear and despair, facing an uncertain future and doing their best to stay hopeful and positive. Do not hesitate to reach out and get the help you need to make it through these difficult times.
Common Struggles Facing Brain Injury Victims and Caregivers
Brain injury victims generally have a long road to recovery. The prognosis for the injured person could be unclear, and family members don’t know if their loved one will recover memory, or be able to once again be fully functioning. If you have a loved one who has suffered a brain injury, many difficult challenges can arise on a daily basis. Common struggles include:
- A TBI victim may be unable to think or function as he or she did prior to the injury. Physical and cognitive difficulties are common, and abilities can be greatly compromised. For less serious brain injuries, recovery takes a long period of rest as the body rebuilds. It may be difficult to have patience, but it is important to recognize that the process will take time.
- There may be assumption that an individual has recovered due to outward physical appearance. While a victim of TBI could appear to be normal, it doesn’t mean the brain is functioning at its normal level or ever will be. Adjusting to new situations can be difficult.
- While those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury may need to relearn how to talk, walk and perform other tasks that we take for granted, there is no need to treat a survivor as a child. Always communicate with respect and kindness and assume your loved one can understand you.
- There is a tendency to fall into negativity, depression or despair. Try to be positive. Recovering from a brain injury may be a long process. Be patient with your recovery or with your loved one. Offer your unconditional support and maintain hope for what the future may hold.
Loved ones and caregivers can also face a multitude of struggles. Some of the most common are:
- Exhaustion resulting in physical and mental burnout
- Personal blame and feelings of guilt
- Lack of financial resources or support
- Feelings of despair or helplessness
Coping with a Brain Injury
Recovering from a brain injury or supporting a loved one who is recovering from a brain injury includes getting help and support. You don’t need to go through this alone. Whether you are a brain injury survivor, the loved one of a survivor or a loyal caregiver, many helpful resources are available. Working with others who have dealt with similar issues can help you face the challenges ahead, and give you the strength you need to move forward.
Mayo Clinic, Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms