Jul 27, 2022 10:00 AM
Author: University of Utah Health Communications
If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your friends and family will be relieved once you’re in recovery and may think that you no longer need their constant support and concern. However, recovery from a TBI can take up to two years.
“Time and patience are a big part of navigating your loved one’s recovery,” says Liz Follis, OT, rehabilitation educator at University of Utah Health’s Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital. “You must try to take things one day at a time and stay in the present moment. It’s okay to mourn the past and be fearful of the future, but you need to focus on trying to stay present in the now.”
When possible, friends and family should work with your treatment team to learn how to help before you’re discharged from the hospital. “The transition to home from inpatient therapy can be difficult, although most patients seem very happy to return home to a more familiar environment,” Follis says. “Many patients don’t return immediately to work and driving, so having a daily schedule with things they need to do and want to do can be very helpful.” For many activities that had been considered routine in the past, a TBI patient may require assistance from family and friends.
The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center’s publication Traumatic Brain Injury recommends the following ways family members can provide structure and normalcy to your daily life, offer you support, and help you avoid over-stimulation while not giving you too much or too little assistance. After you return home, you can let your family and friends know which of these recommendations apply to your situation—and for which you’ll welcome their help with your recovery.
Provide Structure and Normalcy to Daily Life
Offer Support in a Respectful Way
Heed Safety Tips
Follis reminds family members to take care of themselves. “Caregiver burnout is a real thing, and it’s impossible to be a good caregiver if you aren’t finding a way to take care of yourself,” Follis says. Stress from caregiver burnout can create significant health problems. Follis encourages taking walks, exercising, eating healthy, meditating, reading, going to a movie, and spending time with friends. You could also look into respite care, which is planned or emergency care for your loved one, so you can have a break or if you are unable to provide care for some reason.
“I highly recommend counseling or talk therapy to work through the many new emotions that come with being a caregiver and adjusting to such a huge life change,” Follis says. “Counseling can help you discover new strategies for managing caregiver burnout and stress.”
The following online resources may be helpful for TBI patients and their caregivers:
Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center’s TBI Factsheets
Brain Injury Association of America
Family Caregiver Alliance
rehab brain injury traumatic brain injury tbi brain
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Jul 27, 2022 10:00 AM