Caring for a Loved One with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBI. Traumatic brain injury. It is not a diagnosis you want to hear. Sometimes humans forget just how fragile we are.
Every year, approximately one million Americans will suffer a blow to the head severe enough to seek medical attention. Among children older than a year, traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability. 50,000 to 100,000 victims per year suffer prolonged problems following a TBI that will impact their ability to hold a job and lead normal lives.
The injury can come from hitting a windshield or steering wheel, falling and hitting your head, or another type of traumatic blow or jolt to the head.
Just consider if you are traveling at 45 miles per hour and are struck head-on, your brain hits the hard bone of the skull at 45 miles per hour. Brain tissue is soft and upon impact the brain can tear and bleed.
The brain will also ricochet and impact the rear of the skull immediately after the impact, so we have double the impact.
Unfortunately, inside the skull there is nowhere for this extra blood to go. Instead, it puts pressure on the brain tissue which is very delicate and does not continue to function normally.
The brain may begin to shut down with the pressure from the extra liquid and that can lead to symptoms such as confusion, headache, altered breathing and heart rate, even coma and death.
That’s why it
is so important to seek medical attention after any head injury, even if you “feel
Caring for your Loved One Suffering TBI
If your loved one is hospitalized, he or she may feel frustrated. It is not uncommon for someone not to remember what led them to the hospital. They may become agitated. Your loved one may not know the day or date, the city or why people are visiting them. They may strike out, even literally, at medical personnel.
This is where you, the caregiver, are likely to experience burn-out. Understand, that is not uncommon. Of course you want to be there during recovery and physical therapy but there are a few things you can do to improve the situation.
Try to reduce stimulation in the person’s room during recovery. Turn off the TV and eliminate visual distraction. Limit your speech to short sentences. You may want to avoid touching the person if it causes agitation. He/she may need space.
Remember that the head-injured person may get very tired from the various forms of therapy such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy.
It’s a good thing to limit contact with too many visitors. Gauge their reaction to visitors. Too few, may lead to depression, but too many may be an overload. It’s likely that with the passage of time, friends may become former friends as the injured person does not return to who they once were.
Eventually, the injured person may come to accept that are different from the way they used to be. They can appear perfectly fine, but somehow, they are “different.”
What can you do?
Humor helps build resilience. Avoid drug and alcohol use. Reaching out to help others by lecturing on the importance of wearing helmets and not drinking, texting and driving helps the injured move beyond his own suffering. Joining a support group can help people realize many brain injured still function in the world even though they are “different.”
For children, returning to school will be a challenge. In high school, teachers will need to understand that challenge and supply teachers’ notes. The school should be willing to meet regularly to discuss the challenges and progress. You do not want to get behind.
For younger children, they may seek guidance from Children’s Rehabilitation Services. The child may qualify for services including medications, assessments and evaluations as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Seek an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
While you are helping your loved one heal, attorney J. Allen Brown will determine the factors that led to the accident to help you receive the compensation your family will need during this difficult time.
No one deserves this devastating diagnosis, and attorney Brown can help you seek compensation needed for loss of income, pain and suffering, and the medical and rehabilitative costs you face in the future.
Please do not try and go it alone. Call our office today at 251-220-3199 or message us online for a free consultation.