What caregivers should know about traumatic brain injury

It is rarely easy to deal with a traumatic brain injury-not as a patient, and not as a caregiver. The road to recovery is long and difficult. Even after treatment and therapy, your lives may never be the same.

As a new caregiver to someone who has a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you are probably wondering what to expect. While every injury is different, there are a few basic things that TBI caregivers should know.

Understanding traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury is caused when the victim experiences external force to the head. Some injuries are severe, while others are fairly minor. But even minor injuries can have major consequences. Some of the effects of TBI include:

  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches or head pain
  • Personality changes
  • Increases in anger
  • Delayed cognition

Traumatic brain injury for caregivers

Caring for a patient with TBI is full of ups and downs. Your new role as a caregiver will be difficult, exasperating and rewarding. Consider these tips:

  • Be patient

Patients with TBI often experience decreased cognitive ability, mitigated social skills, quick temper and memory loss. Dealing with just one of these symptoms would be frustrating, let alone several. It will be necessary to have patience-for your loved one, and for yourself.

  • It’s okay to feel upset

Many caregivers feel upset at their new circumstances. They wonder why this has happened to them; they feel upset that they may have to be a caregiver for a long time; and they feel guilty for having these thoughts. Anger, frustration, regret, pity and sadness are all common emotions among caregivers-it is perfectly healthy and normal to experience them.

  • Take time for yourself

At some point, many caregivers experience “burnout.” This is when the stress of being a caregiver becomes overwhelming, leading to exhaustion. To mitigate burnout, be sure to seek outside help from relatives, friends and care professionals. Take time for yourself to reduce your stress. If you do experience burnout, you may wish to seek a support group, helpline or counselor.