Brain Injury Category >>
By Sylvia Behnish
Initially I believed that as a person with brain injury improved, they would begin to learn skills to be able to adapt to and deal with any deficits they were left with. I have since discovered this is not necessarily the case. Often brain injury survivors are unable to admit to having any deficits. They are in denial. Some will remain in denial their whole lives. This makes it difficult for them to receive help of any kind. It is almost impossible to help someone when they don’t think they have a problem.
My partner is in denial although he did admit, when I asked, that things weren’t the same in his head. He wasn’t sure how they were different though. (He would not admit this to his therapist). Most often, however, he focuses on his legs which had been broken in his accident. For those who have sustained brain injuries, it will be important to find different ways to deal with their new limitations. After reading that with patience and help, as well as using strategies and tools to compensate, most brain injury survivors can often overcome their deficits I asked my partner if he was interested in trying, with my help, to adapt. He said, ‘Probably not.’ His decision left me with the challenge of learning to adapt and adjust to his brain injury without his help. After thinking about his answer, I decided that adapting and adjusting was more a matter of me learning to cope and accept.
From what I have read, it is stressed that the family member living with brain injury must be resilient in order for there to be the ability to adapt and adjust to the brain injury. Other important requirements include:
– Personal Resources: a sense of humor; physical and emotional health, and a belief that one has some control over one’s life.
– Family Resources: capabilities of the family to meet obstacles; create family continuity and stability; be organized, and have an active involvement of family and friends through the rehabilitation process.
– Social Support: Support of friends and family. This is very important to both the survivor of brain injury and for the caregiver.
– Coping Patterns include: taking action to reduce the demands created by the brain injury; managing emotional and financial difficulties and coping to make the head injury manageable and acceptable within the family structure AND by remaining calm.
Some of the challenges associated with adapting to the brain injury are increased emotional and marital stresses and the suppression of anger on the part of the family member living with the injured person. Caregiving a patient with brain injury can present challenges relating to role changes, loss of sexual intimacy, and loss of empathy. Therefore, it is extremely important to establish coping patterns rather than just adjusting or adapting to the situation.
Brain injuries are a hidden disability. In most cases, the deficits and differences in the individual are noticeable only to those who live daily with the affected individual. In many cases other family members and friends do not offer support because to them the brain injured survivor seems fine. This very likely is not the case and unfortunately lack of support places an additional burden on the caregiver. Those who live every day with a brain injured survivor know that brain injuries are forever.
Sylvia Behnish has recently published her first non-fiction novel entitled ‘Roller Coaster Ride With Brain Injury
(For Loved Ones)’ which tells of their journey along the path of progress during the year following her partner’s brain injury. It was written because of the lack of information available for family members who are trying to cope with the devastating impact of brain injury in their lives. It will offer encouragement with the many difficulties there are in adjusting to the monumental changes in their life and in the life of their injured family member. She has also had numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines in both Canada and the United States.
Sylvia has a very active lifestyle which includes her large family, writing, photography, gardening, reading and time spent enjoying and exploring nature.
To order ‘Roller Coaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)’ go to: