What to Expect As a Loved One Recovers From a Severe Brain Injury

doctor looking at brain injury scansA sudden blow to the head can not only cause trauma to the brain, but it can also impact a victim’s entire life. The delicate and complex nature of the brain can make it hard for medical professionals to predict the permanent effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), leaving victims to suffer through months or even years of unwanted changes—and placing an enormous strain on victims and their families.

Common Problems Experienced by Brain Injury Victims

Most TBI patients simply want to return to “normal,” and may be impatient and angry at the situation their injury has caused. Some will lack self-control or self-awareness, behaving inappropriately in public or giving in to dangerous impulses. Even if a brain injury does not cause behavioral problems, it may result in amnesia that is frightening for the patient and emotionally draining for family members.

Some of the most difficult problems brain injuries cause include:

  • Coping with changes. Brain injury patients will often feel frustrated by the long and uncertain timelines of their recoveries. The inability to plan for the future, know the person they will be after the recovery is complete, or have any real “end date” for their injury can cause a significant amount of distress.
  • Financial stress. There is a wide range of possible treatments for brain injuries, all of which depend on the victim’s specific prognosis and symptoms. Rehabilitation costs can quickly become expensive, especially if the victim requires assistive devices, home modification, or nursing care. Since brain injury victims are typically unable to work or can only earn a limited income, the burden of medical costs may fall on the patient’s relatives.
  • Added pressure on family members. A severe brain injury can force patients and relatives to focus their time and energy on things that may be completely foreign to them, such as traveling to see specialists, applying for disability benefits, or playing phone tag with insurance companies. An injury may compel family members to rearrange their schedules, perform around-the-clock care, or even move across the country, often taking time off work to provide extra assistance.

How Patients and Families Can Work Together During Brain Injury Recovery

Nearly all aspects of brain injury can be improved by a customized rehabilitation program. In addition to physical healing, rehabilitation can give families and patients the tools they need throughout recovery, helping everyone get past the accident and live with the effects of the injury as best they can. Patients can benefit greatly from rehabilitation programs to help their:

  • Physical recovery. The first part of TBI recovery is physical rehabilitation, allowing the body and brain to heal and encouraging the body to work and move. Patients who have had brain surgery or are recovering from multiple injuries (such as car accident victims) may need intensive physical rehabilitation to improve coordination of different body parts. Those with severe head trauma may require speech therapy to relearn how to talk, or anti-convulsive medications to prevent dizziness or seizures.
  • Cognitive recovery. Patients may suffer cognitive problems during recovery, including memory loss, slow recall or responses, problems learning new information, short attention span, inability to remember names and faces, or difficulty processing and using information. A cognitive therapist can help patients develop techniques for word and speech recall and avoiding frustration when cognitive problems occur.
  • Emotional recovery. Most victims of TBI will experience depression or anxiety as they attempt to recover from an accident. Common symptoms of emotional suffering include feeling exhausted, unwillingness to leave the house, fear of others or new situations, and sudden outbursts of anger. Treatment for emotional or behavioral conditions may include medication, psychotherapy, or group therapy sessions.

As the nature of brain injury recovery can be costly and unpredictable, it is important to seek an attorney's advice to get the best continuing care possible for your loved one. Our Tennessee brain injury attorneys fight tenaciously to get the maximum amount of compensation you need to recover—and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.