It becomes an overwhelming and tedious task to deal with the lifestyle changes following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) injury. This can be frustrating for a patient. Some patients find it difficult to put their symptoms, experience, and pain into words. The key to supporting a loved one after TBI is by understanding the injury and its effects.
Family and close friends can offer the best care as they know the patient’s general character and likes or dislikes. Also, family and loved ones can detect subtle changes in the patient that sometimes a medical professional may miss as they do not have a close connection with the patient. Love, care, and support from the family have a positive impact on the recovery and rehabilitation process of the patient. Family members can offer crucial support in helping the patient become familiar with their new routine life.
Tips to support a loved one after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Here are some ways in which you can support your loved one following a traumatic injury.
Be patient: Traumatic brain injury can lead to a plethora of behavioral or emotional issues. These problems arise because the patients cannot cope with the injury and the new normal. TBI is one of the worst experiences of a patient’s life. Your loved one will feel impatient and frustrated after the injury with their inability to do some simple tasks. Sometimes, staying with the patient is difficult as the patient can express hostility towards you or other family members. It can become frustrating and tiresome to repeat yourself to the patient. Hence, you need to have an utmost understanding that they are not frustrated with you but with themselves. Your patience is the key to their faster recovery.
Understand emotions and pain: Some patients may face devastating losses and can experience depression. Many patients feel tired and too emotional after the injury because of their loss of freedom. Dealing with the pain of the injury and side effects of medicines makes such feelings valid. The aftermath of this devastating injury has no limit. Understand their pain and validate their feelings, as these emotions are real for the patient. Validation is undervalued, but it can make a lot of difference.
Empathize: A traumatic brain injury is a life-changing event, and it can leave your loved one feeling like their life has become haphazard and dependable. So, empathize with them and help to find a new regular daily routine. Leave certain things within their reach to access the objects, and they feel things are in their control even after the injury. Positive mementos offer comfort, as they are emotional triggers.
Cheer them: Some sort of encouragement is vital during TBI recovery and rehabilitation. Celebrate even the minor accomplishments. This offers a positive outlook to the patient, and your loved ones will focus on the positives than the negatives.
Promote simplicity: Traumatic brain injury can make the patient feel overstimulated or overwhelmed. Try to keep things simple and avoid overloading your loved one with lots of new information.
Be mindful: You need to remain mindful of the changes in your loved one’s life after the injury and respect them with the new reality. Learn about the effects of traumatic brain injury on the patient and put extra effort into helping your loved one relearn things.
Record the progress: Recovering from a brain injury is a challenging and slow process. It can get disheartening, especially when your loved one does not appear to be improving. To combat such discouraging times, keeping a journal and documenting all the progress can help. Record everything, as this will encourage you and your loved one on those hard days when it feels like nothing is working.
Do not give up: Supporting a loved one after a traumatic injury is exhausting and emotionally draining. But the recovery of the patient is helpful for everyone involved.
There are plenty of such little but positively impactful gestures you can do to support your loved one after the TBI. For example, buy a card or flowers to celebrate minor victories on the journey of recovery.