The human brain is relatively vulnerable, which is one reason why we have such strong, thick skulls to help protect it. Unfortunately, many aspects of modern life put people in positions where their skulls simply can’t adequately protect their brains.
Contact sports, dangerous professions and even the daily commute to work in a motor vehicle could all result in someone developing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Although your brain stops growing at a certain age, it can still heal itself and learn new information.
Traumatic injuries to the brain can cause permanent damage and symptoms that get worse over time without adequate treatment. If you love someone with a brain injury, you want to know as much as possible about the condition and its treatment to advocate for the best care for your loved one and provide them as much support as possible in your home and daily life.
Treatments range from trauma care to occupational therapy
The exact symptoms and needs of someone with a TBI will depend on numerous factors, including their age, any previous health conditions, the location of the injury and its severity. Brain injuries can cause symptoms that range from memory problems and sensory issues to balance problems and issues with decreased motor function.
The symptoms your loved one experiences and the severity of their injury will dictate what kind of treatment they receive. For severe TBIs, surgical intervention may be necessary in the early days to prevent worsening symptoms. Surgeons may operate to remove shrapnel or even pieces of skull from the brain or to reduce the pressure on the brain.
Careful medical monitoring may be necessary in cases where the areas of the brain that control subconscious actions, such as breathing and heartbeat, get injured. For people with a wide range of brain injury symptoms, occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy may become necessary. Therapy is a particularly important tool for the treatment of TBIs, as it helps individuals regain function and adjust to the reality of life with a brain injury.
What kind of support will a person with a brain injury need at home?
As with medical care, the in-home supports and accommodations required by someone with a TBI will depend on how severe their injury is and what part of the brain it impacts.
Individuals with moderate to severe TBIs may require support with daily functions such as cleaning or dressing themselves, feeding themselves, caring for their home, driving vehicles, and managing daily life. When a brain injury affects balance or motor function, family members or caregivers may need to offer physical support or have the home retrofitted to be wheelchair accessible.
Other times, in very severe TBI cases, an individual may remain on life-support machinery or similar devices indefinitely. A family member providing care for them may need to undergo training to maintain those devices and monitor the status of the individual with the TBI.