We often talk about the effects and challenges of traumatic brain injuries (“TBIs”) on accident victims, but much less often on how TBIs affect their families and caregivers. Because it is difficult to predict or diagnose the full extent of a TBI and how well a person might recover; the weeks, months, and even years after a brain injury can be stressful, confusing, and overwhelming for both patient and caregiver, who is typically a family member.
About traumatic brain injuries
Traumatic brain injury is any injury to the head that affects how the brain works. TBIs can occur from violent jolts to the head or neck, or penetrating injuries that break the skull. The CDC reports over 64,000 TBI-related fatalities in 2020, equivalent to around 176 each day. The most common ways people sustain traumatic brain injuries include:
- Firearms and violence
- Car accidents
According to the CDC, a person with a minor TBI may recover in a few days, and “a person with a mild TBI or concussion may experience short-term symptoms and feel better within a couple of weeks or months.” In contrast, “a person with a moderate or severe TBI may have long-term or life-long effects from the injury.”
Long-term challenges of TBIs
Traumatic brain injuries can cause life-changing complications for a patient. Moderate to severe TBIs can cause both physical and mental disability, and patients may never fully recover. Tasks they once found easy to complete may now be more difficult or even impossible. Brainline.org reports:
People who have experienced brain injuries may take longer to do cognitive or “thinking” tasks associated with memory, such as coming up with the correct change in the checkout line at the grocery store or placing an order at a restaurant. Family relationships will almost certainly change, and in some cases the patient will be totally dependent on their caregivers.
Side-effects of traumatic brain injuries can include issues like:
|· Cognitive issues
· Memory problems
· Loss of fine motor skills
· Difficulty maintaining personal relationships
· Decreased ability to work or study
· Challenges with social activities
|· Difficulties with language
· Sleep disorders
· Blurred vision
· Ringing in the ears
· Problems regulating emotions
Helping care for a loved one with a traumatic brain injury can be an intense and emotionally draining process.
Caregiver roles for TBI patients
The Shepherd Center, a medical center specializing in brain and spinal cord injury, notes that every TBI patient’s journey is different, and the road to recovery is a long one. They point out that, as a caregiver, you need “to find a system that works for you in terms of how you organize the questions you have, the information you need to receive and the people with whom you talk.”
When your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, whether you are in the beginning stages of being a caregiver or are starting to feel the symptoms of burnout, the experts at the Shepherd Center recommend some self-care tips:
- Make time to rest and relax.
- Eat healthy whenever you can (try to skip the hospital vending machines).
- Stretch your muscles; walk around the block and get some fresh air.
- Trust your loved one’s doctors. They know best.
- Remember to prioritize your own health, too.
- Do not be afraid to accept offers of help from friends, neighbors, or community. Delegate smaller tasks like errands, dog walking, and lawn mowing so you can spend time with your loved one.
- Talk about your feelings, frustrations, hopes, and fears with trusted people in your life. Or, seek out the help of a therapist or your religious leader – whatever brings you comfort.
- Do not forget to also prioritize your children. They need attention too, and are likely concerned for their sibling or parent.
They remind all caregivers: “Taking care of yourself may seem time-consuming or even selfish, but your loved one needs you to be rested, well-fed, alert and energetic so you are up to the task of caregiving.”
The attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas represent victims and families of traumatic brain injury in the Los Angeles area. We understand that brain injuries not only affect the patient, but also their families and caregivers. Severe TBIs are a lifelong injury, often causing disability and adjusting to an entirely new way of living.
Our legal team works to determine the cause of your injuries, who should be held responsible, and the fair and proper amount of financial compensation to which you are entitled – including the care you may need for the rest of your life. Call our office at 310-474-1582 or complete our contact form to schedule a free, remote consultation with one of our experienced Los Angeles lawyers today.
Please note that this blog is not to be construed as legal advice. Because every case is fact-specific, you should consult directly with an attorney to obtain legal advice specific to your situation.
For more than three decades, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has built a reputation as one of California’s leading law firms. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, John McNicholas and sons, Patrick and Matthew, have tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict on behalf of clients. Learn More about McNicholas & McNicholas