knew before the injury has been replaced by someone who is, in essence, a stranger. This can be more difficult to deal with than the physical limitations.
Many times, an individual who has suffered a brain injury will experience feelings that others would consider natural, such as frustration, disappointment and depression. However, injured individuals may also experience feelings that come as a surprise for family members and loved ones. Along with the brain injury comes a whole new set of circumstances. Without the ability to care for himself, the patient may begin to feel useless and helpless. Having to rely on someone else to take care of one’s basic needs can make the patient feel like a burden, no matter how good the caregiver is at assuring the patient he isn’t.
One of the issues that brain-injury survivors frequently encounter is that they do not appear physically disabled. In fact, their disability may be solely cognitive in nature. Without the physical reminders, others may not be aware of the patient’s limitations and can act intolerant, causing the patient further embarrassment and frustration.
The patient may or may not express these feelings. Putting yourself in her shoes, and putting aside your own issues and wants, will help you really understand what the patient needs.
WHAT THE PATIENT NEEDS FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Every brain-injured individual is different. It may take some trial-and-error to figure out what the patient needs. This may take some time and cause temporary uneasiness when mistakes are made, but by learning what the patient needs, you can help speed up recovery. Based on comments from other brain-injury survivors, we have compiled a list of some of the qualities patients found most helpful from their caregivers and loved ones.
Patience—It will likely be difficult for patients to re-learn tasks, be able to hear what you are saying, remember the simplest things and follow the proper way to behave. Muster all of your strength to avoid pushing them, getting annoyed, or doing things for them that they can do for themselves.
Respect—Keep in mind that a person with a brain injury is still a