by John Copeland
I am a Brain Injured person who provides care for another Brain Injured person.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I can still do much of what I could do before Brain Injury, even if it’s a little slower and more cautious.
Some people aren’t so lucky.
Brain Injury comes in many forms, different types and various levels of severity.
If you have to care for someone with an acquired Brain Injury, things can get strained if you’re not familiar with what to expect.
The only thing that’s the same about people with Brain Injury is that some part of their Brain sustained some damage and different injured parts yield different results.
There are some things you might expect though, so here’s some ideas on what you might have to reckon with, and how you can make a difference to a Brain Injured life.
So, you do some shopping for them and come back with washing liquid instead of washing powder.
For some this is a completely unacceptable change, they may have no experience of washing liquid and become over-anxious in how to use it.
Or they might have a weekly appointment which is suddenly cancelled.
These things for a Brain Injured person are too difficult to accept.
At every level you should try to sustain continuity, even to the smallest detail.
If something is going to change give as much notice as you can and encourage a replacement scenario or item before the change takes place.
You might be visiting a local shop with a Brain Injured person when suddenly they have no idea where they are and become disorientated, despite having been familiar with the same place all their life.
If you show them shops and landmarks to remind them and they still don’t get it, you might have to encourage by saying what an amazing place it is, look at how big that shop over there is etc.
Loss of time and place can only be helped if you’re there for them.
After Brain Injury, some people find it difficult to walk, have an unusual gait or just can’t walk at all.
This usually comes around because the Cerebellum part of the brain has been hurt.
They may need a wheelchair or walking aids.
They may not be able to retrieve these aids because their condition won’t allow them, so you might have to help them quite intensively to get them going.
You may also have to be with them much or most of the time because their balance and motion will need constant monitoring.
Speech can be impaired.
An Acquired Brain Injury sufferer might be saying something which should be perfectly understandable but is unintelligible.
If you spend a lot of time with someone who has this as part of their Brain Injury, you will eventually get to know what they are saying and what a blessing that is for them.
If you don’t you might have to use your own gesticulation and encouragement to have them indicate what they’re trying to say.
Most importantly, you should always treat them as fully intelligent because they are.
Impatience and shouting is a sure way for them to reject you, as it is for anyone.
Some brain injured people might sleep more than normal or have sleeping patterns that happen in daytime.
You will get to know how and when they sleep, and you will be able to anticipate activities or patterns that inform you when they will need a sleep.
Try not to disrupt it. Make sure they do get that time and peace to recharge through sleep.
Their Brain tells them they need it.
Anxiety. We all get it but for a Brain Injured person who has or develops anxiety, this is a whole world crashing in on them.
It will keep them housebound; it will make them sound a bit hostile, they will not trust or interact because anxiety overwhelmingly grips them.
Much of your time may be spent encouraging and motivating.
You can inspire by reminding them of their past successes and how they really can-do things that matter to them.
You can also let them know you’re with them and if it gets too tough, you’re always going to be there.