Brain injuries are more common than many people realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect an estimated 2.8 million Americans each year. There are many different causes for a TBI, including being struck by an object, violent shaking, an object that penetrates the skull, and oxygen deprivation. A baby can also experience a TBI during the birthing process and end up with a lifelong condition like cerebral palsy.
Most TBIs are caused by negligence. Even a birth injury TBI can be caused by medical negligence like using forceps or a vacuum extraction tool to assist in birthing the baby. Using too much force can cause significant damage to the baby’s head. The tools themselves aren’t bad – they’re used during difficult births to deliver a baby quickly and avoid oxygen deprivation. However, mistakes can cause permanent brain damage.
Regardless of the cause, a TBI can have serious and long-lasting effects that make returning to a normal life difficult. For example, memory and the ability to reason are often impaired and some people experience difficulty controlling their emotions. A TBI can also affect sense interpretation like taste, smell, and touch.
If you or a loved one have suffered a TBI, here’s how to cope with the temporary or permanent effects:
1. Practice loving patience
Extreme patience is needed during the recovery process. Expect memory loss to be a factor and a potential long-term effect. If you’re the one with a TBI, let people know what’s going on so they understand why you might ask the same question multiple times.
If you’re caring for a loved one with a TBI, understand that they might have no control over their emotions no matter how hard they try. Let go of any frustration or arguments that begin to develop.
2. Write everything down
Get used to writing things down even if you think it’s silly. For example, you might need to create a checklist on a dry erase board for daily activities like meals, showers, and brushing your teeth. If you’re struggling to remember something, that’s a good indication it should be on a checklist.
3. Talk to a lawyer if the TBI was caused by negligence
If you haven’t already contacted a lawyer, don’t wait any longer. A TBI caused by someone else’s negligence – even by a medical professional – has the potential to bring you compensation for your injuries.
4. Find a counselor you can trust
If you’re already in physical therapy, you’re doing yourself a huge favor. Getting into counseling is equally important. A brain injury that disrupts your normal way of living will affect you emotionally and the anger that comes up may not be easy to handle on your own.
A good counselor you can trust will be an ally in recovering from a TBI.
5. Consider surgery if necessary
After a TBI, there’s a potential for increased pressure in the brain from swelling. This swelling can push against your eye sockets and disrupt your vision. If your doctor recommends surgery to monitor or relieve some pressure, don’t brush off their advice without careful consideration. An extremely swollen brain can cause more damage over time.
6. Learn to embrace a new occupation
After a serious TBI, you or your loved one might be unable to return to work as usual. If you’re still able to work, there’s a high probability you’ll need to change professions.
When you love your job, it can be a drag having to switch careers suddenly. Feelings of resent, anger, and bitterness can take over quickly. However, don’t allow yourself to dive into those emotions for very long because they will devour your sense of self-worth.
Give yourself time to adapt to your new life and try to find a new occupation you’ll enjoy. If you’re not ready to look for a new career, explore your options while you’re on disability. Just don’t let the changes define you.
Keep researching to gain knowledge
Understanding your injury is an important part of your recovery. Use the internet to research your injury and symptoms so you can understand as much as possible. The more you know about traumatic brain injury, the less frightening your recovery process will be.