Life may not be the same after sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is an unexpected multifaceted injury that can affect essential aspects of life such as personal care, mobility, psychosocial functioning, etc. In addition, severe TBI can lead to long-term disability, and the patients may need lifelong help to do daily life activities.
With the help of modern technology and advancements, the mortality rate is low after TBI. However, family members face a whirlwind of different emotions after a traumatic brain injury. They have to decide about caregiving. Caring for TBI patients is challenging and demanding for both the caregiver and survivor. Family members experience role changes and become a caregiver for the TBI survivor.
Family’s role in caring for traumatic brain injury
Family plays a crucial role in the healing process of TBI patients. The family needs to gain an in-depth knowledge of the illness and understand the treatment and healing process. The long-term nursing of the TBI survivor affects the livelihood of the caregivers.
The emotional aspect of caring
As the recovery phase of TBI patients can be very long, the primary caregiver needs to have patience and dedication. The family can face a plethora of challenges while caring for the TBI patient. Challenges like financial constraints, emotional aspects, lack of care skills, and nursing methods complicate the process. Thus, the family’s role is to put such challenges aside and completely engage in the healing process of their loved ones.
Efficient communication between the family members and the patient can ease the process. However, the TBI patient may have trouble communicating verbally. Hence, the family needs to encourage the patient and stimulate the brain activities to reduce the stress levels. For carrying out this challenging task, the family needs to become strong emotionally.
The moral support from close family members gives the patient some motivation to feel good, protected, and comfortable. It lightens the mood and helps to reduce the stress and patient’s pain. The family’s role is based on love and care. The success of the TBI patient recovery increases drastically with supportive family members compared to patients with no emotional support.
The physical aspect of caring
The physical aspect of caring depends on the capability and functional levels of the TBI patient. Family members have to provide for all the patient’s basic needs, especially after a severe traumatic brain injury.
A total loss of physical capabilities demands more care, and the caregiver has to manage right from bathing to changing the patient’s clothes. Sometimes, the patients require help multiple times a day. However, the challenges for mobile patients are fewer and may need help in the bathroom or while eating.
To attend to these demanding needs, family plays an important role. The family caregivers have to supervise TBI patients’ all the medical and hygiene needs. It is the family’s responsibility to keep the living environment of the TBI patient safe and clean. In addition, the family members have to provide healthy and balanced meals. In short, caring for TBI patients is strenuous. A single caregiver can experience exhaustion through continuous work and a lack of rest.
Caring challenges for TBI patients
As caring for TBI patients is a long-term responsibility, it poses numerous challenges, which include the following.
- Financial problems: One of the biggest challenges for the family of TBI patients is economic issues. Family members may reduce expenditures and use personal savings to pay for medical treatments. This further complicates if the patient was the primary breadwinner before the injury. This threatens the family’s stability, and the limited financial resources decline till other family members find jobs or other sources of income. Sometimes, other family members have to quit jobs to provide care for the patient, further affecting their financial position.
- Changing responsibilities and roles: Even after recovery, TBI patients face hardships finding jobs because of poor health conditions. This further threatens the stability of the family, which leads to the inevitable restructuring of family responsibilities and roles. As a result, some family members have to take extra responsibilities such as providing additional income and pre existing family duties.
- Isolation: TBI patients may experience social isolation. Also, the family caregiver who takes full responsibility often gets isolated from others. The primary caregiver has to constantly care for the patient and may not find time to socialize. In addition, the family members cannot leave TBI patients to take part in social and community activities, which may lead to emotional distress.
The responsibilities that the family members experience while nursing and caring for TBI patients are complex. With unexpected health issues like traumatic brain injury, the entire family is challenged and expected to care for the patient.