The Importance of Constituent-Specific TBI Support Groups

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.

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.

Posted on BrainLine January 8, 2013.

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