6 Tips for Helping a Loved One With a Brain Injury
August 2nd, 2021|
Brain injuries are among the worst types of physical injuries a person can endure. Although they vary in severity, the most common is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is typically sustained due to blunt force trauma or a penetrating impact.
Symptoms of a Brain Injury
Brain injury symptoms may be temporary or cause permanent damage. The severity of the symptoms correlates with the extent of the damage to the brain tissue, ranging from mild to severe. Some of these symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
- Dilated pupils
- Headache increases in intensity
- Vomiting or nausea
If your loved one has sustained a serious head injury, whether from an auto accident, slip and fall, or other circumstance, and they experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Types of Brain Injuries
Different brain injuries can elicit varying symptoms and impact the level of disability that occurs as a result. The three main types of brain injury are:
- Closed head: The injury has no visible head wound.
- Open wound: The injury has an open wound, and the brain is vulnerable to penetration.
- Crushing brain: This injury occurs when the brain is crushed between objects.
The most common type of brain injury is closed head, and the extent of the injury is not always immediately apparent, often leading people to postponed medical treatment. This can, unfortunately, lead to serious health complications and long-term disability.
Caring For a Loved One With a Brain Injury
If a family member, friend, or loved one sustained a TBI or another type of brain injury, it’s natural to feel lost or not know what to do. Here are things you can do to help them, making their lives and yours more manageable.
1. Learn About Brain Injuries
The first thing you should do is gather basic information on the types of brain injuries and the severity of side effects. This can help you meet your loved one’s needs, so you can recognize changes in their personality and worsening symptoms.
2. Help Them Organize Their Lives
One of the most common side effects of a TBI is memory loss. Although the severity varies depending on the individual, most cases involve situations where your loved ones forget where their belongings are or become unable to remember names, dates, appointments, or everyday tasks.
There are many ways you can help them reintroduce organization into their lives:
- Encourage them to use lists, agendas, or memo applications.
- Label cabinets, appliances, drawers, and other furniture so they can find what they need.
- Keep photo albums with names, dates of birth, and other information they might want to remember.
3. Don’t Let Them Flounder
Another common side effect of a brain injury is the constant sensation of fatigue and a lack of motivation to get outside or do anything. This may cause anxiety or depression, further reinforcing the sensations of fatigue.
Take them for a walk in a calming place like a park or nature preserve. Organize outings like family picnics or day trips to the lake to give them some fresh air and light socialization. However, avoid large crowds or extremely busy locations as this can be stressful or overwhelming for someone recovering from a TBI.
4. Be Proactive
Sustaining a brain injury can often leave someone feeling confused or out of place, creating feelings of discomfort, uncertainty, and helplessness.
In other words, they may not be able to ask for help as often as they should, out of fear of feeling like a burden. It is vital to be proactive and offer to help even when they do not ask for it. There are many things you can do to ease their burden, such as:
- Run their errands and buy them supplies at a store.
- Do dishes or laundry.
- Clean the house.
- Offer to cook or order food.
5. Be Mindful During Conversations
Brain injury victims may not have the same conversational speed as before. They may feel they are thinking or processing words in slow motion and have trouble recalling the correct terms for things.
Avoid using misleading statements or becoming frustrated when they can’t find the word they need. Instead, let them take time, offer a hint, and give praise and reassurance when they do find their words.
Certain brain injury patients may interpret promises and expressions literally, such as believing you will return in exactly one minute if you tell them you’ll be back “in a minute.” Be mindful of that fact, especially if they were already prone to this behavior before their injury.
6. Above All, Be Patient
A brain injury is a life-changing event that can completely alter the victim’s perception of life, time, and the world. From their point of view, an inability to do even the simplest tasks may be very frustrating.
Show them patience, understanding, and support, both practical and emotional. Helping them do tasks, giving them validation and comfort, and being a supportive presence can make a significant difference in their lives.
Although it isn’t always easy, remember that their condition often causes displays of hostility or impatience. Think of it as their injury talking and not as the intention to be hurtful or hostile.
Help Your Loved One Through This Challenging Time
Recovery may be a long process for a brain injury victim, but time, treatment, and adequate support are the ingredients for returning to a normal, healthy life. Unfortunately, loss of income and medical bills can add financial strain to an already stressful time.
If your loved one sustained a brain injury as the result of negligent behavior by another party, they may be eligible for damages to cover medical costs, lost income, or for pain and suffering.
Don’t hesitate to call our San Francisco brain injury lawyers for a free consultation to help your injured loved ones take back control of their lives and secure the financial compensation they deserve.