A traumatic brain injury can change lives forever. It doesn’t just alter the life of the person that it happens to, but also those who love and care for that individual. Perhaps the worst thing about it is that it can happen in an instant. One minute, your life is normal and you’re happy with someone you love. The next, your entire world is turned upside down. The stark reality of the situation is that your life may never go back to the way it was before. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be without hope. Learning what to expect when caring for someone who has suffered this type of injury can go a long way toward helping you pick up the pieces.
What Causes Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are a number of different reasons traumatic brain injury can occur. As the name implies, it’s most frequently associated with some type of physical trauma. This can happen as the direct result of a car accident, a gunshot wound, or an explosion. It can also happen by merely falling down and striking the head against an object. In some cases, people who have suffered a brain injury as a result of a blow to the head don’t even know that they’re injured right away. They may think they’re okay, but there can be bleeding or swelling on the brain. While it may not be related to physical trauma, brain injury can also occur when a person has an aneurysm or stroke. The end result is often similar, as is the type of care that is often needed.
What Can You Expect After Such an Injury?
One of the things that makes it so difficult to fully comprehend the idea of a brain injury is that there are so many variables involved. Much of it depends on the severity of the injury itself. The outcome may also vary based on the amount of time it takes to receive comprehensive medical care after the injury occurred. In addition, it’s important to note that some people have a tendency to do better than others after such an injury, even when there is largely no explanation for it. As a result, your loved one may come through the injury relatively unscathed or there may be severe disability, up to and including an inability to walk, speak or even breathe on their own.
Is Home Care an Option?
If you’re willing to take on the responsibility, home care is an option. Even for those who are suffering from the most severe brain injuries can sometimes benefit from home care. For starters, they have an opportunity to spend much of their recovery in familiar surroundings with people they have cared about their entire lives. However, it’s important to note that caring for someone at home who is suffering from a brain injury is no small task.
If that’s what you choose to do, you are taking on a very big responsibility that isn’t likely to change a great deal in the near future. It’s best if the entire family agrees with the choice to provide home care so that the responsibility does not fall solely on you. It’s also important to realize that you shouldn’t feel guilty if you decide that your loved one would fare better in a medical facility with trained individuals at the ready. This is a sensitive and highly personal situation. Therefore, you have to do what you truly feel is best for both your loved one and for you.
Will Rehabilitation Work?
Even in a worst-case scenario, many patients do far better with rehabilitation than without it. In this particular case, rehabilitation will depend on how severe the brain injury is and what needs to be worked on most. For example, you might have someone that comes in to work with your loved one on speech therapy or providing physical therapy to help them learn to walk or feed themselves. Even for patients that are completely comatose, having someone work the muscles and turn the patient on a regular basis can prevent additional complications in the future.
What About Complications?
As far as complications are concerned, patients who spend a large amount of time in bed are at risk for a number of things, namely blood clots and pneumonia. Again, it all depends on the level of brain injury present. If your loved one is able to get up and move around, the risk of additional complications is far less than if he or she is confined to a bed. It’s also more likely that complications will occur if your loved one is on a ventilator. Most individuals who succumb to complications after surviving a brain injury do so as the result of a lack of mobility. As such, they may acquire severe pneumonia or develop a blood clot that eventually hits the lung.
Is There Hope That Life Will Return to Normal?
There is always hope, even in the worst of situations. Many people have suffered from traumatic brain injury and come back from it. Your loved one may not be exactly like he or she was before the injury occurred, but the differences may become so slight over time that you’re the only one that really notices. Even if that’s not the case, there is still hope that your loved one could continue to improve so that the two of you have an opportunity to enjoy life together. As previously mentioned, traumatic brain injury affects the entire family. Therefore, hope is something that you absolutely must hold onto.
You Don’t Have to Face Things Alone
One of the most important things to remember is that you don’t have to go through this journey on your own. Enlist the help of loved ones and don’t be afraid to accept help offered by trusted friends. If you need to, have your loved one stay in a well staffed medical facility so they can get the care they need. On the other hand, you may decide to keep them at home. If that’s the case, utilize home care staff that have experience in brain injuries so that you’re not trying to do everything on your own. This is especially true if the condition is severe and you don’t have the medical training necessary to do it safely.
When a loved one suffers a brain injury, everything changes. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a chance at getting back into a routine or even getting a normal life back. While it may not be exactly like it was before, it’s important to remember that people respond to brain injuries differently. They also recover at different rates. That means that you can always hope for better days ahead while you work to do your best with the current situation.