There are many tools that help survivors recover from their traumatic brain injury. But one of the most important tools for recovery is something no hospital in the world can offer: family caregivers.
Being familiar with a survivor’s personality and habits, before the injury occurred, gives family caregivers a unique advantage to care for a traumatic brain injury.
Not only do family members offer elevated comfort and support, but they are also more likely to notice nuances in behavior that may be missed by medical professionals.
Whether it’s the cadence in which they speak, the swagger in their step, or the deep exhales of frustration… Having a caregiver who recognizes these characteristics can drastically influence the recovery process.
These subtle changes may be a temporary side effect or could be a sign of something much more serious. What’s important is they notice, track, and bring these changes to the doctor’s attention. The sooner their doctor is made aware of differences in behavior, personality, or functionality, the sooner the doctor can make any adjustments to prescriptions (and overall treatment if needed).
There are 3 reasons why family caregivers are important to those recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
Family caregivers often experience shock when they first hear that their family member incurred a traumatic brain injury. On the other side, survivors are probably experiencing exactly the same feeling.
Survivors are reminded of their traumatic brain injury constantly throughout each day. A drastic change to daily life is difficult for survivors. Not being able to remember something, or do certain things, may seem like a hopefully short term side effect to a caregiver.
To a survivor, not being able to accomplish these seemingly “easy” tasks can be infuriating and isolating.
The waves of emotions felt by survivors can change rapidly or extend over long periods of time. All people are different – as are their recoveries. Caregivers witness these highs and lows – often needing to think quickly on their feet. The compassion shown to survivors can be the difference to their day, year, or perhaps even the entire scope of recovery.
Having a family caregiver by their side to respond to the event can lessen the shock and help everyone feel less alone.
Sometimes, individuals with a traumatic brain injury can experience late-onset, nonconvulsive seizures. The symptoms are very subtle and can easily be missed by health care professionals, including any of the following:
Often, family caregivers are the first to notice these out-of-character behaviors. Catching the symptoms early means that survivors can get evaluated and treated for silent seizures more quickly.
A survivor may not be fully aware of the impact of their injuries until they return home and try to resume old routines. Suddenly, they might have trouble going about their day as they used to.
For instance, some brain injury survivors find it more difficult to organize and initiate their day to day activities. But family caregivers can help survivors cope with these new challenges by:
This means survivors will spend less time fixated on what they can no longer do. Instead, they will focus on coping with their new reality and moving forward with their lives.
It’s no secret that family caregivers take on an enormous load. It’s only natural that these beacons of strength will feel overwhelmed or burnt out at times.
As experts in brain rehabilitation, we have witnessed the burden felt by caregivers. We encourage all family caregivers to take advantage of our resources and to make sure they take the time to care for themselves as well.
Being in a position to care for a loved one comes with its own challenges. Caregivers often feel high levels of stress while simultaneously putting on a brave comforting face for those in their care. This is no easy feat.
It is important for caregivers to also care for themselves and know that they are not alone. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Whether your motivation for self-care is to help yourself cope or to help you be a better caregiver, you must remember to replenish your own resources to continue providing the care you give. Support groups are an excellent resource to help you.
Communicating with others facing similar struggles and learning new coping skills can be a rewarding experience that helps caregivers feel stronger and better prepared for the tasks at hand.
Connecting with others can feel daunting for a new or overextended caregiver. Especially in this time of quarantining, meeting with new people may not be an option for everyone.
Stay connected through the Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute blog. Both survivors and caregivers benefit from reading our blogs.
We offer a unique perspective to help you better understand what your survivor is going through internally. Nuances in behavior patterns could be a sign of a deeper issue. Not only is their body and mind recovering, but their sense of identity may be challenged due to depression and other unfortunate side effects of a traumatic brain injury.
Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge offered in our blogs.
Family caregiving can make a huge difference in the lives of so many survivors. In fact, Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute was formed out of the love of a father for his son. After his son Russell’s accident, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury, Robert L. Moody, Sr. recognized a need for brain injury rehabilitation resources.
Today, Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute has four Texas locations. Each patient receives the highest level of quality care.
The partnership to recovery between medical professionals and family caregivers is unparalleled. It is not always an easy road, but it can be a crucial part of a loved one’s recovery.
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