Military Families and Brain Injury
BrainLine talks with Dr. Maria Mouratidis about her experiences working with military families.
Military families are extraordinary. What we ask of a servicemember and, by definition then, their family, is huge. They move around the country and overseas based on their duty assignments, they have to often tolerate prolonged separations that can be indefinite sometimes, and sometimes those dates can change of when someone is coming home, and also certainly with returning with injuries that are, of course, unanticipated. Military families are really extraordinary in coping and in adjusting and adapting. One of the things that does make it difficult is they're not necessarily right where their social supports are because they've moved or they're relocated from the rest of their family and friends. And so in those cases, the larger military family rallies around them and provides support to that patient and family as well. The impact of someone that has psychological, brain or physical injuries on how that family functions can be dramatic. Most of us have roles in our family, and when somebody sustains an injury, it shatters your worldview, what you thought you understood about how the world works, your sense of safety often, predictability. In one day your life is different. Yesterday it was a certain way, and today it's completely different. And that family needs to find a way to readjust and reorganize its priorities, its goals, and we work closely with the family at those different points of transition so that they can adjust, that they can also help their children adjust or help the child understand what's happening, how to help the child learn to interact with the injured parent that might be more difficult now than it was before and to deal with their concerns for their children too. So it's a process of education and support and really finding what those strengths are for that particular family and helping to mobilize those so they can adjust and adapt as well as possible.
Posted on BrainLine March 4, 2009.
Dr. Mouratidis is a licensed neuropsychologist and currently the command consultant and subject matter expert for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health at the National Naval Medical Center.