When a loved one sustains a traumatic brain injury, especially a moderate to severe injury, becoming a caregiver can happen suddenly, without warning. The loved one who sustains a brain injury is no longer the same person: he or she may behave differently, think differently, and take in the world differently. And when one member of a family changes, the entire family changes.
There’s no denying that life is different after a traumatic brain injury. In addition to all the physical changes a brain injury may bring, a TBI can also mean the loss of a career or the disruption of an education. It can change your plans for the future, alter the way you meet and make friends, and affect the way you think about yourself. Life after a brain injury usually involves challenges, but that does not mean life is less valuable or fulfilling.
BIANC has created a skill pack that gives detailed information on brain injury and what to expect in the treatment process. This valuable resource is especially helpful if you or your family are adjusting to a recent TBI event. The PDF is available for download and can be printed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a brain injury affect the individual?
The exact impact after a brain injury often varies from case to case. More severe injuries produces physiologic, cognitive, emotional, psychological and behavioral changes. Some individuals develop medical problems related to specific deficits caused by the brain injury. The part of the brain that is injured determines the long-term effects. Often a severe brain injury involves multiple areas of the brain, resulting in multiple disabilities. Physical functions can be affected, such as standing, walking and eye-hand coordination. Cognitive changes can include issues with memory and language. Personality traits can be affected. People may lose their natural inhibitions and behavior control, leading to inappropriate behavior. The effects of a brain injury can be extremely widespread, impacting all areas of a person’s life and requiring extensive medical and rehabilitative treatment.
What is the typical process of recovery?
Following the accident, a person with a severe brain injury requires medical stabilization to monitor and manage basic life systems. As the patient stabilizes and the life threatening aspects of the injury subside, a hospital-based medical rehabilitation program should be considered. Medical rehabilitation programs provide restorative therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, while continuing to provide medical and nursing supervision. Once hospital-based rehabilitation has been completed the person may require a community-based program or ongoing outpatient rehabilitation services. In cases where the injury has caused severe and persisting deficits and high care needs, the patient may require ongoing rehabilitation in extended or long-term care environments. In these cases, transitional and supported living programs may be appropriate.
How much can a person expect to recover from a severe brain injury?
This depends on the areas of the brain that were injured and the extent of the injury. There is a window of time after the injury that is called the spontaneous recovery period. This is when the brain attempts to recover and repair the bruised neurons. The process takes weeks and may extend for months beyond the date of the injury. Rehabilitation helps stimulate the brain to retrain other neurons to take the place of those that have died, and to redesign the network controlling communication between neurons. The recovery process can only be measured individually due to the complexity of the brain and its ability to continue recovery over time. The return of functional skills continues for years following the injury.
BIANC Resource Book & Regional Offices
The BIANC Resource Book is intended to be a guide for individuals with brain injury, family members of brain injury survivors, and professionals who serve them. It provides information and referrals for services related to brain injury.
Click here to see a listing of our regional offices. If you have questions or concerns, please get in touch with us through the office closest to you so that we can assist you.
A free, educational website that provides educational and valuable information related to life after a brain injury.
Family Caregiver Alliance
Information for caregivers living with or caring for a brain injury survivor.
Brain Injury Association of America
Information and links related to living with a brain injury.