When an individual suffers an acquired brain injury (ABI), he or she can experience changes in every aspect of life. The patient may experience varying degrees of cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioral impairments. An ABI can cause temporary or long-term changes in functioning for the victim, and families should be prepared to adjust to the changes, as well as help the victim through the transitional period after the accident.
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Dealing with the Unknown after an ABI
One of the hardest parts of having a family member suffer a severe ABI is learning how to adjust to the new way of living and realizing that the impact and totality of the injury is really unknown. It can be very difficult to predict accurately what abilities your loved one will regain and retain in the future, and it can be a complex, uncomfortable process.
The following are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Allow yourself and family members the space and time to grieve. The Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) notes, “It is common for caregivers [of ABI patients] to experience feelings of burden, distress, anxiety, anger and depression.”
- It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You’ll meet a lot of healthcare professionals and learn a lot of new information initially. Accompany your loved one to doctor appointments and help him or her stay organized. Some of the healthcare professionals you might meet, notes the BIST, include behaviour analysts and therapists, nurses, physicians, rehab therapists, social workers, occupational therapists, and mental health professionals.
Developing a New Social Life
An ABI often greatly affects social skills. Patients may have difficulty communicating or act in an inappropriate or embarrassing manner.
Here are a few tips for trying to building a new social life after sustaining the injury:
- Find safe activities that allow the victim to socialize without putting him/herself in danger.
- Explain your loved one’s condition if it helps your loved one or others relax.
- When beginning to socialize once again after the injury, start with small gatherings in familiar settings to avoid fatigue and feeling overwhelmed.
- Find leisure activities and volunteer work that might be accomplishable.
- Concentrate on fostering new friendships based on common interests or shared experiences. This may include attending support groups with other ABI patients.
Staying Active Post-Injury
The loss of physical and cognitive skills that people with an ABI experience can prohibit them from working or enjoying the recreational activities they once did.
Here are a few tips to help meet this challenge and help your loved one remain active:
- Help your loved one maintain a daily schedule with meaningful activities, which can include skill-appropriate physical activities, volunteer work and other accomplishable tasks.
- Modify once-enjoyed activities to suit your loved one’s current abilities.
- Consider enlisting the help of a recreational therapist. You can contact the provincial ABI services in your area for a referral.
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Legal Counsel for Negligence-Related ABI Cases in Ontario
If your loved one’s injuries are the result of an incident for which someone else was responsible, call an injury attorney at the Preszler Law Firm in Ontario. You might be able to file a claim for compensation for damages. Contact us to set up a free consultation at your convenience: 1-800-JUSTICE®.