With respect to behavioral changes, let's start with education
about why the person may be behaving the way they are
and to explore with the family around some of the situations
that may trigger some of the anger or frustration.
So for example, if the person is very overwhelmed,
has difficulty filtering out lots of noise and lots of stimuli in the environment,
just changing the environment and making things quieter
may help to reduce that level of frustration.
So that would be something fairly simple that families can do
just purely through education and modifying the environment.
Now sometimes we know that anger can come out of nowhere
when someone's had a brain injury, and in those situations,
it's really important to help families learn calming strategies,
not to talk back, not to argue back, which will just escalate the anger,
and instead, learn exit strategies, time out, learn ways of calming, stepping back,
but then coming back to talk about things when things are calmer.
Sometimes it may be just modifying the communication style.
Because we know that people with brain injuries
may have more difficulty processing information,
families may need to learn how to be short and sweet in their messages, not to over talk,
not to use complex long sentences, and to keep things simple,
and that makes it a lot easier and less frustrating for the person with the brain injury.
With respect to mood changes, we know that both the person with the brain injury
as well as the family member, experiences a real sense of loss.
So the person with the brain injury may be going through a grief reaction,
and it's not uncommon for people to experience sadness, anger, despair,
like the same kinds of reactions that people go through when they've lost a loved one,
and the person with the brain injury also goes through those same kinds of feelings.
And so that needs to be acknowledged by the family, by people around them,
and sometimes family members in their good intent to be helpful
try to pull the person with the brain injury away from those feelings
rather than sit with them and support them
and help them normalize that this is okay and giving permission to grieve.
So that's an important component of dealing with some of the mood changes
because it may be a grief reaction that they need permission to experience
and to express and to go through.
Now, we also know that after a brain injury,
people are more vulnerable to experiencing mood changes such as depression.
So it would be important to make sure that it's not a clinical depression and to assess for that
and help the individual consider whether or not
they want to engage in counseling to deal with the depressed mood.
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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King. This marriage and family therapist talks about common issues after TBI.
Transcript of this video.
Caron Gan, RN, MScN, RMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor is an RN and Marriage and Family Therapist, registered with the Ontario and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. For the past 18 years of a 30-year career in healthcare and rehabilitation, she has worked with clients with acquired brain injury, providing psychotherapeutic intervention to youth, adults, couples, and families.
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