An Adjustment for Everyone[frame align=”right”][/frame]When a loved one has sustained an acquired brain injury (ABI) their family members and close friends must also adjust to a new reality as well. You may find yourself taking on responsibilities that your loved one used to, or having to help them with tasks that could have done alone prior to their injury.
You may be frustrated and confused by behaviours that don’t make sense. All of this is part of the process of adjusting to the “new normal” of life after a brain injury. You are not alone and support is available.
It is important to recognize that each brain injury is unique. You may hear from others about their experiences of miraculous recoveries or devastating losses. Just because this has been the outcome for another individual does not necessarily mean it will be the case for your loved one. There are many factors which affect recovery after ABI, including the area of the brain injured and the severity of the injury as well as pre-existing health and abilities.
Because the brain is in control of every aspect of our body’s functioning, the effects of a brain injury can be widespread. The physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional systems can all be affected. It is important to know that while the challenges can be extensive, the brain is also capable of developing new connections and continuing to make improvements over time.
The Role of Rehabilitiation
It is important to work with a rehabilitation professional for support when your loved one first returns home, and at times support is required for years to come. If your loved one agrees, take time to speak with or review any information they may have from the doctors and therapists involved in their care. This will help the individual with the ABI to maximize their potential, as well as provide you with a better understanding of the injury. They may also be able to tell you some strategies to help your loved one in their rehabilitation. By encouraging the survivor to use these techniques you can help them to make the most of their therapy. But remember, you are still their family member, and they need your understanding, love, and support most of all.
In some circumstances, an ABI may cause the person to react aggressively or in ways which may endanger themselves or those around them. Often these individuals do not mean to cause harm, but because of their brain injury they may have less control over their emotions than before. It is important to share this concern with your loved one’s care provider so that strategies can be put in place to protect all involved from harm, and help your loved one to regain control of their emotions. It is never something you should have to face on your own.
You may also want to refer to Moderate and Severe ABI or Mild ABI and Concussion for more information.