Why Is It Important for Families to Understand the "New Normal" After a Brain Injury?

Why Is It Important for Families to Understand the "New Normal" After a Brain Injury?

Why is it important for families to understand the "new normal" after a brain injury?


It is so important for people to have an understanding of what’s normal after brain injury.  People don’t know what to expect.  For example, I read a New York Times article about a woman whose husband had a form of dementia and kept getting angry at her.  She said that when she learned that the reason why he was getting angry was because he had dementia, she stopped taking things so personally. 

So for example, it's important for families to understand what normal effects of a brain injury can be. Many people who have a brain injury will find themselves getting frustrated, losing control of their emotions, and maybe getting irritable and angry. It really comes with the injury.  And so if a family knows what to expect and they learn techniques to address those emotional outbursts and help the person with the injury control those outbursts, it makes the whole family feel like their lives are a little bit more predictable and in control. 

Related Resources

Posted on BrainLine August 8, 2018.

About the author: Jeffrey Kreutzer, PhD

Jeffrey Kreutzer, PhD a Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry at VCU. He serves as Director of Virginia's TBI Model System, a position he has held since 1987. He also coordinates VCU Health System outpatient services for families and persons with brain injury.

Dr. Jeffrey Kreutzer

Comments (12)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I’m 7 years out and I still get frustrated, overwhelmed, angry , and I get tired easily I love to sew but only for a short amount of time.. I used to be able to sew for hours on end

I'm 3 years out, and my life has drastically changed. I feel that everyone around doesn't understand what I'm going through, and treats it like a phase. I try to push myself to do better, but sometimes everything becomes so overwhelming, it's just hard to just, "get over it, everyone struggles." I use to be such a strong person, now I'm an emotional wreck. It's very hard to accept the "new normal" when I didnt have time to accept what happened to me to get to the place in time.

I couldn’t have said that better myself. We have to keep pushing on to the objective though. Stay strong.

Migraines, light sensitivity, short term memory loss, labile emotions, anxiety,depression, hearing loss, chronic fatigue and the list goes on for my daughter who sustained a temporal TBI 19 years ago and now has post concussive syndrome. The unpredictability was very difficult to deal with.

We have been told that when you see one brain injury, you've seen one brain injury. "Recovery" is individualized and unpredictable. How can we know (or accept) the "new normal" when it keeps changing?

Finally, someone else who thinks similar to me. Why accept something that doesn’t have to be. Keep recovery going.

Honestly, this is a touchy subject. My husband had an injury six years ago, and it’s been so hard. Now, he’s dealing with depression, and I don’t know how to help. I feel we can learn techniques, but until he "accepts" the new him and the loses he has had there won’t be happiness. I believe until one is happy within they will never be happy with what’s around them. I wish there was more support for spouses.

I am post TBI 15 yrs. I ran a support group in NJ. When a group member got frustrated on what they use to be (I used to be CFO) I would say “the operative word is used to be, now take the strengths left & build on them you will find a new you” the other saying we had was pick your battles. I was blessed with a neuro psychiatrist that helped with medication.

Absolutely. We haven't reached our new normal yet. It's been 2 years and 7 months and he's still progressing.

This is true, but how about some kind of article about things that might be "new normal?" The medical professionals around my TBI hubby basically shrug and say "everyone is different" which isn't tremendously helpful. I'd love to see something that succinctly describes what types of behaviors might be anticipated depending on the insulted area of the brain. For example my hubby had a brain hemorrhage at the right basal ganglia, what types of affects should be anticipated?

That's just it. No one knows what to expect. Each and every brain injury is diff & unique in its own way. No two brain injuries are alike. No one knows their future. I am also a brain injury survivor, 15 yrs now. Just when I think I got things figured out, I'm thrown something new: new circumstances in new situations. The world is complete chaos to us. We just have to take it day by day. That's all we can do, with as much love & support as possible.

Hi Elsa, I think just as every brain injury is different so is everyone's "new normal." There are lots of Stories and blogs on here written by lots of different people describing their life (& new normal) after brain injury. David Grant's blog on here is good.

It's hard to know exactly how your husband could be affected. Google says that a right-sided basal ganglia stroke can make it difficult for someone to perceive sensations on their left side and/or difficulty knowing where their left hand or left foot is in space. Making simple movements may become more difficult. they might have visual difficulties and other physical problems, they may also have emotional challenges. They could become more emotional than they were before the stroke... or become depressed or anxious. A mental health professional can help you both address those if/as they come up.