How You Can Support A Loved One After A Traumatic Brain Injury

Supporting Brain Injury Awareness Month

 

**This post has not been written by a medical professional, however, the 

information provided has come from credible sources.

 

(TBI)Traumatic brain injuries can occur at any age in various situations from road traffic accidents, assaults, falls, accidents at home or work to underlying health conditions such as a tumour, stroke or brain haemorrhage. 

 

The effects can be wide-ranging and usually depend on several factors such as the type, location and severity of the injury. Furthermore, the differences in treatment methods for coping with a brain injury vary greatly from person to person, however, some common methods can be used to help both survivor and those who have a relationship with the survivor to overcome short-term and long-term problems which may affect their personality and their relationships. 

 

Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury

 

The emotional, behavioural, physical and cognitive effects of a brain injury can often have an impact on existing and future relationships. Some may find that their bonds are even closer than ever whereas others may find their friendships beginning to slowly deteriorate over time. 

 

It is important that both survivor and those who have a relationship with the survivor communicate their concerns and to raise awareness of how the other person feels. Should you know a survivor of TBI here are some key relationships in their lives and how they and the people around them may feel. 

 

  

Partners

Couples spend a great deal of time together so when a brain injury disrupts their relationship, it can take a toll on both survivor and partner. In most cases, the partner also becomes the carer, which can lead to confusion between the roles of ‘carer’ and partner becoming blurred. 

 

If the survivor’s personality has changed, the partner may feel that they are no longer the person they originally chose to be in a relationship with, resulting in feelings of confusion, longing, sadness and loss. On the other hand, the survivor themselves may no longer feel the same way about their relationship as they did before the injury. However, enduring challenging experiences like this can also, with support, strengthen some couple relationships.

 

Family 

Members of the family may take on the role of caring for the survivor. This may lead to feelings of stress as the family member finds that they are less able to spend time with friends or doing activities they enjoy. Contrarily, some families may enjoy being able to spend more time together than they did before the injury, building stronger bonds and better relationships as a whole. 

 

Children

The reaction of a child should their parent sustain a brain injury will depend on several things such as the child’s age, their temperament, the type of relationship that they had with the parent before the injury and how the injury has affected the parent.

 

Relationships between some parents and their children may strengthen and can also offer a potential contribution to their parent’s recovery if supported appropriately. However, it can also be quite common for the child to feel distant and confused about the relationship.

 

Friends

You can imagine that most people will have little understanding of the nature of a brain injury therefore they won’t know how a survivor feels, how they will cope and what they/you should do to ease the situation. As a result, friends may initially joke about the survivor’s injury in social situations, or trivialise the effects of it from a lack of understanding, failing to recognise the impact that this has on the survivor themselves.

 

It is unfortunately quite common for brain injury survivors to feel as though friends are drifting away. However, as with family members, some friendships may strengthen, especially is a friend is sympathetic and willing to learn about brain injury.

 

Work Colleagues

The people with whom we work with often form an important social network in our lives. Some working relationships with colleagues may even develop into friendships, whereas others stay as professional relationships restricted to the workplace.

 

Brain injury survivors who are able to return to work may have difficulties with maintaining appropriate social contact with colleagues. Colleagues may also struggle to understand and adapt to the survivor’s new needs or pace of work. Supervisors and managers may not know how to respond to such challenges, especially if they are not familiar with the effects of brain injury.

 

If a brain injury survivor who cannot return to work after their injury, relationships with former colleagues may taper off over time. The changed circumstance of not seeing work colleagues regularly can lead to feelings of social isolation and the loss of a familiar social network.

 

The Impact of Broken Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury

 

When any type of relationship is changed, this can commonly cause feelings of sadness, confusion, hurt and loneliness among everyone involved. In turn, the brain injury survivor may become withdrawn and socially isolated, and it might become more difficult for them to seek support.

 

Some brain injury survivors may feel that their loved ones do not understand how they are feeling, which can cause them to become frustrated and distant. Conversely, families and friends of a brain injury survivor may also feel frustrated and helpless if they are unable to understand how the survivor is feeling and how they can help.

 

Both brain injury survivors and their partners, relatives and friends can be affected by a change in the relationship, and it’s important that both feel able to access support accordingly.

 

Seeking Support After a Brain Injury

 

To seek support whether you are a TBI survivor or you have a relationship with a survivor, you can receive plenty of support online and potentially from your local area. To find out how you can be supported in your area, click here and to raise awareness for brain Injury Awareness month, ensure to spread the word that coping with relationships after a traumatic brain injury may take time, but equally strengthen networks you should everyone understand and communicate each other needs to one another.