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Three simple ways to help a loved one cope with a brain injury

Because the brain is such a complex organ, every traumatic brain injury (TBI) is unique. The long-term effects of a TBI can vary based on the part of the brain that was injured, the severity of the injury, the type of injury, how quickly medical treatment was administered and other factors.

With so many different factors to consider, it may be difficult to predict how a loved one’s injury might affect him or her. It may also be difficult to predict what kind of help he or she may need or want. However, there are a few simple ways to help that can apply to almost any situation.

Avoid trivializing invisible symptoms

Many of the effects of a brain injury may not be immediately obvious to someone who isn’t experiencing them. Making comments, like “You seem fine,” or “Maybe you are just not trying hard enough,” can belittle difficulties that are very real to your loved one.

Some of the invisible but disabling effects of a TBI include:

  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Irritability

Be patient

Showing patience can go a long way toward helping your loved one cope. It can be frustrating to repeat yourself continuously, but memory problems are common after someone experiences a TBI. Your loved one may also need to relearn how to complete certain tasks or may complete tasks more slowly. Creating new routines and finding ways to streamline tasks may help your loved one. However, simply showing patience can also help things go a little more smoothly.

Do not force your loved one to accept unwanted help

You may be eager to help your loved one in his or her time of need, and sometimes it may just seem easier to jump in and do things yourself. However, independence is one of the most important things your loved one may have lost after his or her TBI. If your loved one does not want help, allow him or her to complete tasks independently. It may help your loved one recover faster, but it may also boost self-confidence and improve his or her quality of life.

Caring for someone with a TBI is not always simple. Recovery from a TBI can take months or even years, and it may be initially unclear how much care your loved one may need during this time. However, there are simple ways you can support your loved one, and sometimes the simple things can be the most meaningful.

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