How to Care for Patients with a Brain Injury
September 06 2022
9 Tips for Providing Higher Quality of Care for Someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury
Caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury can be both demanding and rewarding, especially if you are a family caregiver.
The fact is, few injuries are as devastating as a severe brain injury. A person suffering from a TBI (traumatic brain injury) may behave, think, and see the world differently than they did previously.
It is essential that you provide care that minimizes as much stress as possible for both of you as you care for your patient. This will make it easier for both of you as you navigate providing better care for the patient.
Here are nine tips to help you provide better care for someone with a brain injury.
Education is Key
1 There are many different types of brain injuries, so it is key that you learn about your patient’s specific condition. A brain injury occurs when there is a strong external force that collides with the skull. This causes the brain to hit the skull and this movement can cause a severing in what allows neurons to communicate with one another, which is what causes a loss in function.
No two patients’ brain injuries are exactly alike, so it’s important to understand that their experience will be unique. With that said, location, size, and severity can often predict what recovery may look like and that is where knowledge can help you provide better care!
2 Maintaining a structured environment is vital. Structure minimizes potential issues by providing a consistent and dependable way of life. It also provides you, as the caregiver, a disciplined approach that can help you deal with any inevitable challenges that may arise. Help your patient maintain a schedule that provides only as much activity as the patient can handle without becoming fatigued.
Give Them Independence
3 It can be tempting for caregivers to want to help patients with a TBI do everything. However, this can actually be harmful to their long-term recovery. This is because rehab is about rebuilding or building new neural pathways that can help patients recover lost abilities. This form of repair is known as neuroplasticity. This means that if you do everything for your patient, their brain will not receive the stimulation it requires to heal and recover.
Remind your patient that you are there to help if needed, but encourage them to keep trying and work toward recovery.
Encourage Rehab Exercises
4 Speaking of encouragement, it is important to not only encourage them to be independent, but to also participate in their prescribed therapy and rehab exercises. For example, this can mean reminding them to do their exercises for at least a few minutes each day.
TBI patients who experience a frontal lobe injury often struggle with planning ahead and staying on task. As a result, they often cannot take the initiative to do their therapy on their own, and you’ll need to remind them when it is time to do those exercises.
With enough practice and consistency, the patient will learn to initiate activities again, but until then, they will need your gentle reminders and encouragement.
Be Patient and Provide Emotional Support
5 Brain injuries can cause a number of emotional or behavioral issues, particularly for frontal lobe injuries. Your patient may struggle with severe mood swings or behave impulsively. They may even have a lack of empathy for others and this can be very frustrating for many caregivers.
As a caregiver, it is imperative that you be patient and understand that emotional issues are often because the person with the brain injury has a problem that they cannot cope with. This could be pain, exhaustion, or even excessive noise or confusion. Sometimes giving them a few minutes of space alone can help.
Having a brain injury is devastating for an individual and they may also experience depression as a result of feeling like they have lost their sense of freedom. Your patient may experience grief of that loss in different ways. As a caregiver, providing them emotional support can help them. Remember, don’t try to force them to feel happy, but rather lend them a sympathetic ear. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, including with other survivors or with a therapist.
Know the Invisible Side
6 While physical problems are much more obvious, you’ll also need to know the invisible side of brain injuries. Other symptoms that aren’t as obvious to the eye include, but are not limited to:
- Cognitive deficits (such as memory loss)
- Speech/Language difficulties
Being aware of these other side effects can help you prepare for and provide better care for your patient or loved one.
Overcoming Communication Barriers
7 Sometimes, a person with a brain injury may suffer from speech disorders, such as aphasia or dysarthria. Depending on the type and severity of aphasia, the TBI survivor may struggle to find the right words or to understand what you are saying. Remember, this does not mean that the person has lost their intelligence! It simply means they have lost the ability to produce or understand language.
Here are some dos and don’ts of communicating with someone with a TBI:
- Don’t shout; they can hear you just fine, but may have difficulty processing as quickly
- Do repeat things in a normal voice
- Don’t complain about having to repeat yourself
- Do remain patient as they try to speak or understand you
- Don’t remind them how much you do for them
- Don’t tell them they aren’t trying hard enough
Write Things Down
8 Memory issues are a significant part of brain injury symptoms. Writing down important information for the patient where they can easily see it can help. For instance, keep a whiteboard in each room and write down a scheduled appointment or other reminder for them. Or try a sticky note with instructions on how to use the TV remote or microwave. All of this can help them become more independent as they exercise and stimulate their brain.
Be a Cheering Squad
9 One of the biggest things you can do is provide encouragement during rehab. Make sure that you take time with them to celebrate every accomplishment or gain. It’s all about focusing on the positives as our attitudes and beliefs shape our actions. The more positive their belief is toward their recovery, the further they will go in healing!
A Helping Hand
Do you need a helping hand caring for a loved one with a traumatic brain injury? All American is here to help you provide excellent care for your loved one! Our trained and caring professionals provide the same level of care as we would for our own loved ones. To learn more about our customizable home healthcare services, contact us today!