Dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury29th Jan 2018
A traumatic brain injury can be life-altering. In the very worst cases it can be life-shattering.
Dealing with doctors, hospitals and surgery are one thing, but it’s once the individual is home and the front door clicks closed that the recovery process really begins.
The problem is that there is no quick fix or a step by step guide to supporting someone with a traumatic brain injury. The reason for this is because ‘traumatic brain injury’ is a catch-all term for a host of different injuries, side effects and long-term challenges, some of which can take years to manifest.
This can make dealing with the aftermath of the injury difficult to deal with as what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
Tailoring the support around the individual’s needs is incredibly important as it can not only speed up recovery but reduce frustration for both the individual and the family who support them.
In the vast majority of traumatic brain injury cases the three areas of rehabilitation are:
- Physical rehabilitation
- Mental/cognitive rehabilitation
- Emotional support
Although it’s worth noting that emotional support needs to be available to everyone involved, not just the injured party.
Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, mobility, speech and motor function may have been impaired or diminished altogether.
Physiotherapists and speech therapists can help the individual not only to strengthen their physical capabilities but encourage the brain to recover. Repeating exercises encourages the brain to form new neurological connections, bypassing the damaged areas completely.
It’s important to stay positive during the process as it can take time. In the same way that there isn’t always a guarantee that the individual will recover, it isn’t always clear if a disablement from a brain injury is permanent either. So keep trying.
The cognitive impacts of a traumatic brain injury can be far-reaching indeed. It can affect the individual’s ability to reason, impair decision making and the ability to take on board information. It can also affect the language centre of the brain making it harder for the individual to communicate.
Language therapists and other rehabilitation experts can support the individual with language skills, re-teaching social and communication skills and other behaviours needed in order to function both independently and in a public environment.
Of course this is all dependent on how severe the injury is. Bleeds on the brain or edema suffered subsequently can render parts of the brain irrevocably damaged.
It is impossible to measure how much emotional support someone will need. Everyone has a different tolerance for trauma in the same way they do for physical pain.
However, it’s really important to be able to identify the difference between someone who is coping and someone who is just bottling everything up.
This is made harder still as a traumatic brain injury can sometimes mean the injured party undergoes something of a personality shift. This means your baseline for ‘normal’ behaviour is either irrelevant or askew.
Emotional support can come in many forms, from personal to professional.
Amy Zellmer, a Huffington Post contributor and traumatic brain injury survivor, commented that one of the most valuable forms of support was just people showing up because they cared. Whether it was bringing meals, groceries or the offer of company and a movie, the proactivity of a support circle makes a huge difference.
Structured support is also available in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or attending sessions with a psychologist.
It’s important to note that support should be offered – or sought – for the whole family, not just the injured party, simply because if the family buckles under the pressure then everyone suffers.
Dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury
Fortunately in the UK a lot of the services required in order for someone to recover from a traumatic brain injury are free or heavily subsidised through the NHS.
However, if the individual is not able to work or look after themselves then the fact that the care is free only solves half of the problem.
If other family members have to give up employment or reduce their hours in order to take care of the injured party, take them to their appointments and support them in their rehabilitation, then it doesn’t take long for financial worries to compound the stress the family is under.
Needless to say this can prove a breaking point for some families and marriages have broken down because the maths of one spouse caring for another simply did not add up.
It’s an impossible position that they never should have been put in.
This is why it’s important to make sure you and your family are protected against the costs associated with an injury that wasn’t your fault.
If someone was responsible for inflicting the traumatic brain injury then you may be entitled to make a claim.
Book a free chat today to speak to one of our personal injury solicitors to determine if you can make a claim.