How to Help a Loved One Cope with Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a condition that affects approximately 2.8 million Americans each year. Of those who sustain this type of injury:
- 2.5 million are treated in the emergency room;
- Nearly 300,000 are hospitalized;
- Approximately 50,000 die from their injuries.
TBIs are caused by a severe jolt, bump, or blow to the head that causes the brain to become displaced. TBIs can vary widely in severity, and this condition manifests itself differently in each specific case. The mildest forms of TBI are known as concussions, and they can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days or longer. In its more severe forms, TBI can last for several months up to several years or longer.
There are a wide range of symptoms that are associated with traumatic brain injury, some of the most common include:
- Severe headaches;
- Drowsiness and fatigue;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Difficulty with focus and concentration;
- Dizziness and loss of balance;
- Slurred speech;
- Mood changes or mood swings;
- Memory problems;
- Anxiety and depression;
- Changes in sleeping habits;
- Unusual agitation, irritability, and other unexplained behavior.
From the time you learn that a loved one has traumatic brain injury, your role in their life can change significantly. For example, when a spouse develops TBI, the other spouse may suddenly be thrust into the role of caregiver. The same holds true for a child when a parent develops TBI, depending on the age of the child and other specific circumstances.
Accepting the fact that you will need to relate differently to a loved one with TBI can be difficult and stressful, and it will take some time to adjust to your new role. However, this is how it is going to be at least for the time being, and the best way to help your loved one cope with traumatic brain injury is to try to rise to the occasion and do everything you can to get them through this difficult time.
Here are five important tips to help your loved one deal with their traumatic brain injury:
One of the first things you need to realize about caring for someone close to you who has TBI is that it will require infinite patience. This condition is very unique, and the symptoms are very hard to predict. Some days, it will seem like things are getting better, then the next day, there might be setbacks. It is important to be mentally prepared for this journey, and to be committed to love, support, and care for your loved one no matter what happens. It may also be very helpful to get connected with some type of support group either online or in your local area.
Get Plenty of Rest
In order to exercise the patience required to care for a loved one with TBI, you will need to get as much rest as you can. This job will be both physically and emotionally draining, and there may be days when you feel totally exhausted. In order to get the rest you need, you might need to make some short-term changes. For example, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you can take off up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period to provide care for someone close to you who has a serious medical condition. You might also be able to get some caregiving help from family and friends, or if you can afford it, hire an in-home caregiving service to give you some relief.
Help your Loved One Get Organized
For someone who is suffering from TBI, organization and structure are critical. As TBI sufferers often struggle with memory loss, try to make things as predictable as possible. Develop an organized schedule, keep important items in the same places, put labels on everything, and take advantage of the numerous apps that are available to help those with memory problems stay organized.
Find Ways to Get Them Out of the House
As anxiety and depression are other possible symptoms of TBI, these feelings can be magnified if your loved one is stuck in the house all day. Try to find ways to get them out of the house, even if just for a short walk in the park. Think about what they like to do in coming up with ideas to help them get out more.
Be Sure they Follow all of their Doctor’s Orders
One of the most important pieces of advice for helping a loved one cope with traumatic brain injury is to follow all the recommendations that their doctor prescribes. As mentioned earlier, TBI manifests itself differently in each case, and the path to recovery is unpredictable. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to check with the doctor before resuming activities such as exercising, driving, or going back to work.
Explore your Legal Options
If your loved one developed TBI because of the negligent or reckless actions of another person or party, you may be entitled to damages. Compensatory damages may be available not only for actual monetary losses such as medical bills and time missed from work, but also for intangibles such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. Before accepting any type of settlement offer from the insurance company for the party responsible, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
At Whibbs Stone & Barnett, we have over six decades of combined experience successfully representing individuals who have been sustained traumatic brain injuries and suffered all other types of personal injuries in Florida. We understand the enormous physical, emotional, and financial toll TBIs take on victims and their families, and we fight hard to help ensure that our clients receive the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.
Call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, or send us a message through our web contact form.