If a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is affecting someone you love, handling what comes next can be very difficult. No one can prepare you for the hardship that pairs with seeing someone you love suffering from such an injury. It is important to gain an understanding of what they are going through in order for you to both to begin healing. We offer the following five tips to begin coping with your loved one's injury:
1. Don't live in denial
It is completely normal to feel frustrated and overwhelmed when trying to grasp the how and why of TBI. Denial is an easy place to live because a "new normal," can be painful to accept, but this is the time you need to pool your inner strength. Your loved one needs you to be strong for and with them. If you find yourself stuck and needing emotional help, consider joining a support group or seeking professional help.
2. Be aware of changes in communication
People affected by TBI can often become withdrawn and less communicative. They might suddenly feel like a burden to those around them, especially to those who are expected to take on more responsibility on their behalf. Keeping lines of communication open is hugely important; remind them that they are not in this alone.
3. Understand their rights
Brain injuries can result from various types of accidents. If your loved one was injured on the job or by another individual, they may be eligible for compensation. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you indentify where your case stands and if you should make a claim.
4. Be open to changing roles in the relationship
If you live with your loved one who is suffering from TBI, it is likely both your and their roles within the relationship will change. Depending on the severity of their injury, you could be required to take on responsibilities they used to perform. This is another area where communication is very important, while they might not be able to perform certain tasks anymore; it's possible they can take on other roles that help your relationship function. Let them tell you what they can and cannot handle and remember that your encouragement can aide immensely in their healing process.
5. Know what it takes to move forward
A lot of those affected by TBI are able to fully recover, but it takes time. How much time is unclear and will be different for each individual. There will also be cases where some affected by TBI will not fully recover, this means accepting a new reality and reinventing your normal.