A Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide for FamiliesSuffering a traumatic brain injury is life altering, not only for the patient, but also for their families.  Things may not be the same, home life and relationships have to adapt and adjust to accommodate the recovery and rehabilitation of their loved one.  There are major decisions that need to be made about treatment and care.  These decisions come at a time when the families emotions are heightened from the trauma to their loved one.  As a family, there are steps you can take to make these adjustments a little easier.  Educating yourself about TBI, its symptoms and treatment will empower you to ask the right questions and make informed decisions.  The healing process is also helped with support services, like therapy and support groups.

Traumatic Brain Injury is different for every patient, depending on the severity and the part of the brain affected.  Before making any major decisions about treatment and care, it’s helpful to get acquainted with the general conditions of TBI.  By doing research online about the general causes, symptoms and treatment options you can familiarize yourself with TBI.  This may help you make the right choices that are specific to your loved one’s needs.  You can also look up new technologies and cutting edge research.  Then take what you find to your doctor and ask questions.  Ask about everything, about all the information you’ve found, and their opinions about it.  Ask about the testing, and what’s involved with testing, the area of the brain that’s affected and the severity.  Get as much information as you can, don’t be shy.  It can only help your family by learning as much as you can.

Deciding about treatment and rehabilitation services are a crucial part of recovery.  You might not want to settle on the first treatment facility you come to.  Taking into consideration your loved one’s needs and the information you’ve attained, explore all their options.  There are many types of TBI treatment plans and facilities; like home-based rehabilitation, hospital outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, comprehensive day programs at rehabilitation centers, supportive living programs, independent living centers, club-house programs, school based programs for children, and others.  You may have time to make visits to multiple places and again, ask questions.  Ask about psychiatric and therapy services, and about their family support programs.  Families may benefit from counseling and therapy as well, treatment is helpful for all that are affected by TBI.

Rehabilitation in the form of emotional support is important also.  At times emotional support can be more important to others in the healing process. This is where the patient’s families come into play.  It’s at home that much of this healing occurs, and is encouraged by family support.  One way to show your loved one support is by attending doctor’s appointments.  Another way is to share their emotional responses with them.  By laughing and crying with them they feel they are not going through these feelings alone.  Show patience, it may be hard to sometimes to wait for them to complete a task, but allowing them to do it on their own gives them a sense of accomplishment.   Patience goes hand in hand with positive feed-back and optimism. Combating the feelings of depression with good energy only serves to strengthen the will of the patient through recovery.  Mental and emotional stability coincide with the physical demands of recovery.  Because the symptoms of TBI often include memory loss and poor concentration, establishing a structured environment may be very helpful.  By creating repetition in the daily activities it might help them remember what they do next.

Your loved one is not the only one that needs support.  As you are supporting them, you might feel that you need some support.  By taking on the responsibility of caring for your loved one, you may be feeling anxious, confused, fearful or depressed.  Therapy may help you work through your own emotional responses.  A therapist may be able to guide you through this period, give you some clarity and provide you with the tools you need to endure.  There are also family support groups to discuss experiences and share advice.  It may help your feelings of isolation and give you strength by talking to others that are going through the same things.

The process of healing from Traumatic Brain Injury can be long and difficult for all that are affected. It involves coping with physical and emotional trauma.  It’s important to remember there is hope, and there are ways to make the adjustments as easy and painless as possible.   Seeking support services, talking to professionals, and learning as much as you can may help to make the process a little easier.

Last updated 7/5/2015