Accidents of any kind can be devastating to the people who suffer from them, no matter how predictable or preventable they were, to begin with. Of the many injuries that can result from accidents, though, brain injury is perhaps the most impactful.
Brain injuries can present in different ways, and can have any number of effects and impacts on an individual – from difficulties with speech and memory to difficulties with coordination and mobility. As a loved one of someone unfortunate enough to suffer such an injury, what are the best ways to approach helping them?
A wide variety of injuries can have a meaningful impact on self-sufficiency, and the same is of course true of brain injuries. But brain injuries come with unique difficulties and barriers to normal life, that can make simple things like organising travel and attending appointments unusually tough.
In supporting your loved one through their injury, perhaps the most use you can provide is in the form of logistical support. By being there to help them travel from A to B, and navigate potentially confusing or taxing hospital appointments, you can ensure their treatment and recovery go as smoothly as it possibly can.
There might also be legal avenues to navigate, in the form of compensation claims for brain injury. If your loved one suffered their brain injury unnecessarily, through no fault of their own, there may be avenues by which the tangible and emotional costs of their treatment and recovery can be recouped through the civil courts. This process is a complex and stressful one, though, and it would help them to have support and guidance.
Shoot for independence
While there are many individual ways in which your loved one may require support for their injury and recovery, it is also crucial that you understand the importance of their independence. It can be difficult for someone to suddenly shift from complete independence to needing to rely on others; this can breed resentment and other emotional harms if not addressed properly by both them and you.
Where possible, the independence of the injured party should be centred. This means knowing when to help, and when to leave alone. Independence can also be assisted through functional changes to the home of your loved one, which enables them to better navigate and handle items. For example, where brain injury affects strength and mobility, accessible kitchen tools can make cooking and preparing drinks easier.
Patience is a virtue
As with helping anybody through the recovery and rehabilitation process, patience is one of the most valuable virtues you can espouse in assisting your loved one through recovery from a brain injury. Brain injuries are by definition complicated, and the road to recovery is not often a straightforward one.
As such, roadblocks to progress are frequent, and new challenges can present themselves at the most inopportune moments. Being patient with yourself, and with your loved one’s own emotional struggles with their recovery, can be key to being a meaningful presence.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.