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Brain Injury Caregiver

August 24, 2021

When someone you love suffers from a brain injury, you may have to take on the role of a CDS caregiver. Though it may seem simple at first, all of the changes you'll experience can take you on a roller coaster, leaving you unsure of how to deal with it. Thanks to support groups made especially for brain injury caregivers, you don't have to go at it alone, knowing you have someone to lean on.

Below, we’ll share some changes that you may experience when caring for your loved one that’s suffered from a brain injury. We’ll also share some key things to look for in a support group and how you can seek help if you start to feel overwhelmed.

Physical changes for someone with brain injury

The brain is a complex organ, one that is unpredictable if damaged. When someone suffers from a brain injury, they can display a number of symptoms, some of which we’ve listed below.

Weakness

Weakness usually only affects one side of the body. As a caregiver, you need to know the side and body parts affected for proper care.

Muscle coordination problems, including swallowing problems

Sometimes, the injury messes with the nerves, which could cause issues with certain muscles causing your loved one to spasm.

Full or partial paralysis

In some cases, paralysis occurs and can either be permanent or just temporary. Either way, those affected will not be able to feel or move the part that is paralyzed.

Changes in the senses

If you've known the patient's tastes before, keep in mind they may have changed. They may not like the same things they used to and maybe sensitive to certain smells and tastes.

Seizures

In some cases, patients can experience seizures. There is no way to determine whether they will be strong or subtle or whether or not they will be persistent or not.

Sleep problems

Your loved one may begin to experience issues sleeping, either unable to fall asleep or sleeping most of the day. Likely, these symptoms will change as they heal.

Speech difficulties and word-finding problems

You may also notice that your loved one starts to have trouble communicating certain things. They could have difficulty recalling words or speaking in general.

Physical changes are not the only changes that one with a brain injury experiences. In addition, they can also experience cognitive changes. Some are more severe than others, and some can change the way that one lives for the rest of their life. 

Cognitive changes for someone with brain injury

Not only are there physical effects that those with a brain injury experience but also cognitive changes too. Cognition has to do with thinking and acting based on those thoughts, both of which could be damaged in the event of an injury.

●       Shortened attention span

●       Memory problems particularly short-term memory

●       Problem-solving difficulties and trouble following directions

●       Poor judgment

●       Partial or complete loss of reading and writing skills

●       Language problems, including communication deficits and loss of vocabulary

●       Inability to understand abstract concepts

●       Difficulty learning new things

Some of these symptoms can appear very soon after the brain injury occurred while others may have a delayed appearance. Some could be permanent while others can go away over time, restoring the individual to the way they once were. In addition to physical and cognitive changes, behaviors can also change.

Behavior changes for someone with brain injury

When one has a brain injury, there can be several things affected. Because of that, caretakers may notice a change in mood, one that can completely change the personality or the typical mood of those injured.

●       Difficulty with social skills

●       Inability to empathize with others

●       Tendency to be more self-centered

●       Inability to control emotions, emotional lability

●       Increases in irritability and frustration

●       Inappropriate and/or aggressive behavior, easily angered

●       Extreme mood swings

●       Depression (individuals with TBI are considered to be at high risk for depression)

Just like other symptoms and changes that come as a result of a brain injury, behaviors may persist or may disappear or lighten over time. These changes are typical, though no two individuals have the same behavior changes. Caregivers should understand that these changes can occur and know some of the things they may experience when caring for those with a brain injury.

What caregivers feel when taking care of a patient with a brain injury

Because of all of the changes that could occur when one is healing from a brain injury, caregivers may begin to feel emotional during the process. They are there with the patient most of the time, monitoring them and ensuring that they are okay. It’s typical to feel emotional when dealing with a patient, and caregivers may experience any or all of the following.

Burdened

The need to provide around-the-clock care can wear on caregivers, making them feel burdened by the task.

Stressed

The number of changes happening and the constant switching of moods and attitudes can leave one stressed out, unable to relax.

Anxiety

Caregivers often experience anxiety, unsure of how to take care of their loved ones. They are often nervous and use caution with all they do.

Anger

It’s also common for caregivers to feel angry, especially if the injury was the fault of someone else. They may also experience anger due to a buildup of stress and anxiety. 

Because there are a lot of emotions that could come into play when dealing with changes from one with a brain injury, caregivers could easily get worn out. When caregivers begin to feel overwhelmed and feel like they need a hand, there are ways that they can reach out for help.

Getting help

As a caregiver, it’s good to know that you’re not alone. There are support groups and a lot of other resources out there that are there for those that need help. If you or someone you know is struggling with their role as a caregiver and looking for some relief, here are some key ways that they can find it.

Accept assistance

When someone offers help, don’t refuse it.

See a doctor

If you’re experiencing issues, you can see a doctor for help, getting their recommendations.

See a therapist

Therapists are there to listen and provide advice, so see them if you feel stressed.

Go to a support group

Support groups will make you feel included, as you’re not the only one going through emotions experienced by caregivers.

Make time for self-care

There is never a bad time to care for yourself, so pencil some time in for yourself.

There are many resources out there aimed at helping those who have a role as a caregiver. Though there are lots of options, not all of them are created equal. Instead of guessing which is the best, there are key things to look for in a caregiver support group.

What to look for in a brain injury caregiver support group

When searching for a brain injury caregiver support group, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Below, we’ll share a few of those with you so you can know what to look for.

●       Look for a professional group and leader

●       Look for a group that's been around for a while

●       Look for a group with clear goals

●       Understand who the group is for