The Importance of Constituent-Specific TBI Support Groups

Having a loved one with TBI can be very confusing and painful, especially at first. Joining a support group with others dealing specifically with the same issues can make a world of difference.

See more of Dr. Taryn Stejskal's videos here.

After a traumatic brain injury, I think a lot of things happen to relationships. When people say, "What can happen to a relationship?" Really, my response there is probably what can't happen to a relationship? That's probably a shorter list. We know that relationships can get better. There are all types of examples, from "In An Instant"--Lee and Bob Woodruff getting closer in their relationship. There's a new movie out called "The Vow" now, where a couple had to learn to know one another again after their relationship and ultimately were able to accept the people that they are now. But, I think sometimes those media examples don't necessarily make people feel very good because with the people that I work with in my practice, typically their relationship hasn't gotten better since the injury, and a lot of times there's a lot of difficulties that people face. People can become very depressed, very angry, feel hopeless, feel lonely. One of the things that I advocate for are kind of constituent specific support groups, so one thing the Brain Injury Association of America has done a great job with is facilitating support groups across the country. But what happens sometimes in these support groups is people will go to a support group maybe 1 or 2 times and they'll say, "You know what, there isn't anybody here like me." "There isn't somebody who is my age, or there isn't somebody who has a significant other with a brain injury." It's all parents of children who had injuries or that type of thing. So, I think one of the great things that we can do as professionals is create support groups that are constituent specific. So, recently we've started a support group where it's just for partners of people that have had a brain injury. And what that does is allow everyone to kind of come together and have a common bond already in that support group and be able to learn from one another and then have a sense of maybe what's normal or how they can get ideas to get through a particular problem or a particular difficulty from other people who are working on the same types of issues.
Posted on BrainLine January 8, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.