Caring for a Loved One with TBI


The phone rings and you get the worst news of your life. A loved one has been injured in an accident and is in a coma. You are not sure they will survive.

The coma results from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which happens when the head receives a jolt, a blow, or a bump that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. The jolt is severe enough to jar the brain inside the skull.

A mild jolt can cause a concussion while a severe injury may result in coma, memory loss, or even death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S. In 2014, there were an average of 155 deaths every day from injuries that included a TBI. 

Falls are the number one cause of TBI, according to the CDC. Auto accidents can also deliver a severe blow to the head if a person hits the windshield, the dashboard, or is ejected from the car.

After the impact of the brain on the skull, there may be a secondary impact as the brain ricochets and hits the opposite portion of the skull.  This can cause the brain to bleed and without an escape of the liquid, the individual can suffer confusion, headaches, coma, and death. You must seek medical attention after any head trauma to make sure there is no internal bleeding.

For children, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in those over one year old.  This can occur in a playground accident, a car accident, or an accidental fall, among other causes.

For survivors, life may never be the same. The brain may heal to an extent but the injury may not allow the patient to return to his/her normal life.

Caring for Your Loved One

Families will certainly feel overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for a brain-injured patient. If the injured is the breadwinner, the prospect of losing family income only adds anxiety to the grief.

Patience will be the number one quality that caregivers must adopt. Your loved one may not remember the events that led to his hospitalization. He may not know the day, where he lives, or the names of his friends.

While hospitalized, the facility may encourage you to reduce stimulation in the room including television and radio.  When communicating with your loved one, you may want to use short sentences and not overwhelm them with visitors or emotions.

The facility should be providing physical, speech, and occupational therapy when it is appropriate, so as a caregiver, you should be encouraging and not critical.

Understand that rehabilitation will be a constant with any brain injury. The brain has a limited ability to heal and rewire itself to attempt to return to normal.

Remember, your loved one may feel depressed and frustrated. He/she wants life to return to normal and may be impatient with the progress, because healing from a TBI can take a long time.

The hope is that someday they will return to some normalcy. If not, they will have to learn to accept the new normal, and so will you.

As a caregiver, you may need to reach out to a support group of others who understand what you are going through. Hopefully, you will come to understand that brain-injured people can still function in the world, though maybe not as they once did.

Children too will need to be guided and supported, not criticized.  Teachers and the child’s school will need to provide understanding and support to a returning student.

Make sure you access community resources such as occupational, physical, and speech therapy when appropriate.

A legal guardian and professional case manager may need to be involved to advocate with hospitals and insurance companies to access the maximum amount of care so your loved one can improve to the best of his/her ability.

An Experienced TBI Attorney

During this time, you may hear from many members of the community, friends, and family. Among those who reach out may be lawyers who want to represent your traumatic brain injury case against the at-fault party.

Attorney Chip Nix understands the importance of having a professional advocate on your side to access all of the medical and rehabilitative care you will need and to find the most appropriate avenue through which to recover compensation. Let’s start the conversation about your personal injury case. He can be reached online or at 334-203-6669 in our Montgomery office.

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