According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, since 2000, over 300,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Our service members struggling with TBI oftentimes are unable to communicate their feelings about what they are experiencing. This can place a lot of stress on family members trying to assist those they love who have TBI. The list below recommended by brainline.org provides some helpful suggestions on how to help someone struggling with TBI.
TBI Survivors Often Need More Rest Than Usual
TBI survivors often experience physical fatigue as well as “brain fatigue” more so than people who do not have TBI. Processing information, thinking, and organizing can be daunting tasks for TBI survivors. Stamina can also fluctuate. Cognition can be very difficult for TBI survivors with some days being better than others. Pushing too hard can often lead to setbacks and sometimes illness. Try to be patient with your loved one and don’t demand too much all in one sitting.
TBI Rehabilitation Can Take Many Years
Even after formal rehabilitation has ended, rehabilitation can continue for several years. It is important not to expect your loved one to be the same person they were before the TBI occurred. Even though they may look healthy on the outside, they are still suffering with a debilitating illness. Consider speaking to a counselor or someone you are close to about how to handle the challenges associated with accepting the personality changes your loved one will likely experience.
TBI Survivors Can Become Overwhelmed Easily
They may avoid social situations, crowds, confusion, and loud noises, which can overload the brain. Limiting exposure is a coping mechanism that many TBI survivors use, not a behavioral problem. Also, if there is more than one person talking at a time, TBI survivors may appear disinterested in the conversation because they have trouble following the various lines of discussion. They are not being rude, just coping with their illness. If your loved one becomes frustrated and says they need to stop talking or take a break during an activity, it is important to listen to them. They need time to process the discussion and take a break from all the thinking. After a break, they will be able to rejoin the conversation.
Patience Is The Best Gift You Can Give A TBI Survivor
Oftentimes, TBI survivors will not remember important events or precious memories. This doesn’t mean they don’t care. Their TBI has impacted their ability to retrieve memories. Being patient with your loved one will allow them to work at their own pace and rebuild pathways in their brain. Rushing and multi-tasking can inhibit their ability to rehabilitate. Try to listen with patience, do not interrupt, and allow your loved one the time needed to find the words and follow their thoughts. This allows TBI survivors to rebuild their language skills.