Traumatic brain injuries can turn your world upside down in a single moment. When a loved one suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you might feel a bit lost or unsure of what to do, how to take care of them, and how to make their life easier after such a drastic change. Here are a few things you can do for your loved one, as well as some things to know about TBIs.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A TBI is an injury to the brain that usually occurs after a blow to the head or a sudden, violent jolt that knocks the brain against the skull. Common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Sports injuries
- Bike accidents, especially without a helmet
- Slip and fall accidents
- Attacks by another person
Closed Head Injuries vs Penetrating Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries fall into one of two categories: closed head injuries, which do not break the skull but bounce the brain against it; and penetrating brain injuries, which occur when the skull is broken.
A TBI suffered in an accident, fall, or attack with a blunt object is likely to be a closed head injury such as a concussion, hemorrhage, or intracranial hematoma. Closed brain injuries can also be caused by the deprivation of vitamin b1 or oxygen deprivation to the brain. These injuries can range from mild to severe. Penetrating brain injuries, on the other hand, often result from gun violence or severe accidents – for example, an accident that causes a piece of the skull to break and enter the brain – and are often extremely serious and long-lasting.
Caring for a Loved One after a TBI: Where to Start
The first step in caring for a loved one after a traumatic brain injury is to gain an understanding of their injury, its severity, and how it impacts their life and abilities. Understand that no two brains are exactly alike, so your loved one’s needs should be confirmed with their doctor.
Be prepared for the injury to potentially affect their memory, cognition, basic skills such as brushing their teeth or walking, personality, energy levels, and more. The entire body relies on the brain, so depending on what areas of the brain were affected, the effects of the injury may manifest in different ways. It may be helpful to write down differences or new difficulties you notice as they appear, then bring them up with your loved one and their doctor during visits.
Patience is Key
When caring for a loved with a traumatic brain injury, keep in mind they may have to learn to function differently or adapt to a body that is no longer able to support itself as it once did. This can be an incredibly frustrating experience for you and your loved one, especially if their speech has also been affected.
Practice patience and be willing to learn and adapt with your loved one. They may become tired quickly, struggle with basic tasks, or find themselves unable to regulate their emotions. Try to keep in mind that personality or mood changes are not personal, but a result of the injury.
That being said, it is important to make time for self-care and reach out for support when you need it. Taking care of your own mental health can make you a better caregiver to your loved one.
The Importance of a Routine
Memory loss or difficulty retaining information is very common after a traumatic brain injury, but maintaining a routine can help. Try to put things in the same place each time you set them down so that your loved one can find them. It may also be helpful to make a list of where items such as medication are located and post the list throughout your home so it is easily accessible.
It is also common for TBI survivors to become easily overwhelmed, which is another area that a routine may help. Having a clear idea of how their day will go, even if they need gentle reminders of what is coming next, can help settle their anxiety.
Covering TBI-Related Expenses
The costs of medical care and accommodations for traumatic brain injury survivors can add up quickly, but it is sometimes possible to recover some of these expenses through a civil lawsuit. If your loved one’s injury was caused by the negligence of another person (for example, a distracted driving accident), Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. may be able to help. Call today to learn more about whether your loved one’s medical and rehabilitative expenses can be recovered through a civil claim.