Traumatic brain injuries can change the lives of survivors and their families dramatically. Patients may become unable to work and they may need extensive medical treatment or supportive care for years or the rest of their lives. Because of the demands of the injury, family members may find themselves taking on more intensive caretaking roles.
If you are taking on the role of caretaker for a TBI patient, how can you best support your loved one or family member? What can you expect in the aftermath of a TBI?
If your loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by someone else’s actions, then you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf to help get the support that they need. A personal injury claim can get financial compensation to offset the losses caused by the injury, such as lost income, medical bills, and out-of-pocket expenses. You hold the person responsible for the injury accountable for their negligent actions.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we’ve helped countless clients throughout California get the compensation they deserve for catastrophic injuries that profoundly affect their lives. We know what you’re going through – we’re here to help you navigate the legal process and support you through this challenging time. Our experienced personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay any legal fees upfront and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries and Common TBI Symptoms
Learning about your loved one’s injury is the first step to supporting them.
The brain is extremely complex and responsible for most of the body’s functions. As a result, even “mild” TBIs like “minor” concussions can have serious consequences.
Traumatic brain injury can happen if your head is hit with enough force to injure or bruise the brain’s gray matter – neurons, veins, and arteries. This happens most often in a crash, in a fall, or as a result of being struck by an object. You can also suffer TBI if your head “whips” too fast in an accident, causing your brain to strike the inside of your skull.
- Non-penetrative or “closed” brain injuries involve no open wounds. Concussions, diffuse axonal injuries, cerebral contusions, and intracranial hematomas are all examples of common closed head injuries.
- Penetrative or “open” brain injuries involve either an open wound or a bone or foreign object that pierces the brain from the outside. Common examples are linear skull fractures, depressed skull fractures, or skull collapse. The deeper these injuries, the more damage they can cause, including additional closed head injuries.
- Crushing injuries happen when the brain is crushed by an outside force. Blood vessels may constrict and slow or stop blood flow to the brain. If the brain suffers displacement, it may become unable to communicate with the rest of the spinal cord.
Because the brain is so complex, the symptoms of TBI can vary widely from person to person and may include temporary or permanent memory loss, difficulties communicating or speaking, seizures, nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, problems seeing or hearing, or even personality changes. The more serious the injury, the more severe symptoms you can expect.
Do Traumatic Brain Injuries Get Worse Over Time?
Some traumatic brain injuries get better over time, especially with proper medical treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation. The improvements may be slow and gradual, but patients can see real progress, with some getting back significant abilities that they lost after the injury.
But unfortunately, TBIs can also get worse over time. According to the CDC, within 5 years of suffering a TBI, 26% of patients improved, 22% stayed the same, 30% actually got worse, and 22% passed away. Even with intervention, your loved one’s condition may not improve.
How Do You Help Someone With a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Besides learning as much about your loved one’s injury as you can to understand what they’re going through, you can take the following steps to help them recover or cope:
- Allow for independence when possible – You may be tempted to help as much as possible, but allowing independence wherever possible can actually have a positive impact on the TBI patient. As they recover from their injury, the more activities they engage in, the more new neural pathways their brains will build.
- Encourage them to do their rehab exercises – Some injuries like frontal lobe injuries affect executive functioning abilities like planning ahead and completing tasks. Rehab could be key to recovery so it’s important to remind patients to do their exercises.
- Approach emotional challenges with patience – Frontal lobe injuries can also result in mood swings, impulsive behavior, and difficulty empathizing with others. While this can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that your loved one may be confused, exhausted, or in pain. They may need some space. Try to stay calm, avoid reacting, and remember that they’re suffering from a symptom of their injury.
- Watch out for “invisible symptoms” – Not all TBI symptoms are that obvious or dramatic. Your loved one may be suffering from secondary symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, depression, or impaired social skills. These may manifest as irritability, aggression, or a lack of consideration for others.
- Expect communication difficulties – TBI patients may have difficulties speaking, processing words, or forming thoughts depending on their injuries. Aphasia and dysarthria (slurred speech) can be frustrating to both the patients and their caregivers. Be conscious of new communication challenges and try to work patiently through them together instead of raising your voice, ideally with a speech therapist.
- Write down important notes – TBI patients often struggle with memory issues. Use sticky notes, whiteboards, or other visible reminders to help.
- Record gains and cheer on successes – Recovery from a traumatic brain injury often takes time. When patients improve gradually each day, they may not realize just how much progress they’re actually making. This can get discouraging, but if you record your loved one’s progress, you can look back and see how far they’ve come.
- Take care of yourself – Running yourself ragged to take care of your loved one will end up weighing heavily on you both. It’s important to take care of yourself by taking time away for yourself, treating yourself, or joining a support group.
Finally, if your loved one’s injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you should talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Click here to contact our experienced team of attorneys at Sepulveda Sanchez Law for a free consultation of your case.