If you were injured in an accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), life as you knew it may never return. This means that TBI survivors will have to learn how to adapt to the new normal that has become their lives.
Family members and other loved ones will also have to adjust their relationships with you in order to accommodate the changes wrought by the accident. This can have a deleterious effect on some of the closest relationships you may have. Below are some tips to help with the adjustment process.
Rediscovering your identity
Who were you before the accident? It’s likely that you were a spouse, parent, sibling, son or daughter, employee, friend and intimate companion. Now, you may see yourself only as a patient or victim, a person who has become dependent upon others for the most basic needs.
Then, too, others’ roles in your life may have been altered by your injury. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and companions may have become caregivers, with varying degrees of reluctance.
These altered perceptions can make it quite challenging to resume normal relationships. But there is some good news, as people can learn how to forge new, sometimes even stronger, relationships with those who are important to them after a brain injury rattles their worlds.
Isolation and loneliness are common
Have you ever felt lonely in a crowded room? Those are frequent feelings for TBI patients and might arise from:
- Problems with comprehending others’ conversations
- Inability to communicate with others
- Feeling misunderstood
- Problems relating to other people
- Challenges with explaining thoughts and emotions
Brain injuries invisible
If you break your leg, there is visible evidence of an injury. People can gauge your recovery progress through visual clues — first a cast and crutches or a wheelchair; later a walking boot or maybe a cane.
But with a brain injury, there are often no recovery signs evident. In fact, you may appear to be as physically intact as before when you are actually on an unpredictable course of recovery that can have plateaus and valleys, as well as peaks.
Recovery is ongoing
TBI sufferers learn not to take it as gospel when doctors claim that recovery is made within the first two years of the accident. While it is true that the greatest gains will typically occur one to two years post-accident, recovery after that period is still possible and can be pursued with treatment and therapy.
Communicate differently but effectively
Your brain injury may alter the ways that you interact with others in your world but does not preclude your developing alternate communication methods that are effective in getting your messages across.
Below are some suggestions to improve your communication repertoire:
- Have people speak to you clearly and slowly
- Engage in difficult conversations during quiet times when you are well-rested and calm
- Have others introduce new information slowly
- If speech is garbled, learn to use facial expressions, gestures, picture boards and flash cards to express yourself
- Eliminate background noises and distractions when trying to communicate
Seek compensation for your losses
Despite your best efforts, your life may never again be as it was. If another person’s negligence caused your injury, you have the right to hold them liable for your losses and damages by filing a claim for damages in the Louisiana civil courts.