How Can Educating Families About Common Impacts of Brain Injuries Help Them Heal?

Question: 

How can educating families about common impacts of brain injuries help them heal?

Answer: 

One of the first things that we do is to show families and survivors a list of common results of brain injury. Most people are familiar with the cognitive changes, like trouble with memory or adding numbers.

But the list that we provide people has things on it like communication challenges, social challenges, new fears about being around other people.  That’s a common impact of brain injury.  We talk about emotional changes; people are more likely to be depressed in the first year of recovery.  People often feel what we would call emotional ability; they’re happy, then they’re sad, and emotions are all over the place.

All these things are very directly related to injury.  Most people are not aware of the scope of the changes that occur after brain injury, even when they’ve had a brain injury or when their spouse has had a brain injury; they tend to associate some of those changes with their difficulty with managing the situation.  There’s a component of that that’s true; if we’re stressed, we’re not going to be as smooth emotionally as we are when we’re not stressed.  But a lot of this really does come straight from the injury. 

So in counseling when I present people with this list and talk about how those specific instances or changes are impacting their family or their relationship, people are often very emotional.  They say things like, "Did you come in my house? How did you know exactly what our life is like?"  And to have the experience of knowing that while the changes they’re going through are very difficult, they’re not unusual or unexpected can be very, very comforting for people. 

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Posted on BrainLine August 8, 2018.

Comments (1)

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As the days go by I feel as though I’m drowning a little more. I’m so angry and resentful. I’ve kept it bottled up a year and tried my best to stay strong for my children and my husband but I’m breaking and I’m ready to burst. My husband (42 years old at the time) suffered a TBI 13 months ago. Overnight I went from being his wife to his caregiver. On top of it a mother to our children 4 and 6 years of age. I’m so physically and mentally exhausted. I’m starting to lose myself. I’ve kept it all so bottled up but I’m hurting so much. I’m lonely and I feel so disconnected from myself and everyone in my life and I wish I could find a way to fix it and continue to remain strong for my husband and children. On top of my husband recovering from a TBI this past year he also was diagnosed with cancer, underwent surgery and treatment- we really got hit with a whamie. The past two weeks I haven’t been able to keep it in anymore and I’m spending my days having crying spells. I’m taking on too much and I’m overwhelmed but at the same time don’t really have a choice about it. I just feel stuck. I’m grieving for who my husband was before but still encourage and love him for who he is now. But it’s so hard to not miss him. I’ve tried a few different therapists but they weren’t very helpful since they weren’t familiar with caregiving for a spouse recovering from a TBI. Not sure where this post is going or who is going to read it but I’m just so...lost and lonely.