A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can devastate an entire family. Over the years, I have met many families struggling to help their loved one function after such an injury. Earlier this week, I read an article in an Alabama newspaper that told the story of a wife caring for her husband who had been changed dramatically due to a TBI. The article told a story that I hear far too often in personal injury cases involving TBI. I felt I had to post it.
Here is a great truth from the article that tells the struggle of family members to provide care and cope with the injury:
Unless you live with someone who has traumatic brain injury, it's difficult to understand the impact of it.
People who are suffering traumatic brain injury often "look" healthy to others. However, "looks" really are deceiving. The person who has suffered TBI can undergo a complete change in personality or function that affects everything in his life, including his family, his friends, and his work. Those family members closest to the person often face great difficulties providing care and continued support.
When I am asked to investigate a personal injury case involving a TBI, I want to talk with the person's family, close friends, and co-workers. These are the people who interact with the injured person on a daily basis and can tell the rest of us about the true extent of the person's injury. Their stories are often very emotional.
The Alabama Head Injury Foundation offers resources concerning TBI. The Foundation is participating in research to understand better the impact of TBI on family members and caregivers. The Foundation's website lists a number of losses associated with TBI. Here is what the website says about the families of those suffering an injury:
Initially the family's sense of relief that their loved one is still alive changes to an uncertainty about the future, followed by a growing awareness of potential changes in physical, cognitive, behavior, emotions, social skills and communication . Gradually the full extent of the damage caused by brain injury becomes clearer. The person may behave differently, no longer functioning as before, and may seem as a totally different person. Even those closest to the person may only realize later that the brain injury has changed the course of their lives as well. Life's usual expectations no longer apply and the future becomes blurred resulting in uncertainty for all involvedPeople with brain injury want to move forward in their lives again after brain injury. The desire to regain full or partial control over one's life and to make something out of it can be very powerful. Facing an uncertain future can be overwhelming, but with the help and support of friends and family, as well as understanding from a caring community, and partnerships with helping professionals, life can take on new meaning.
Traumatic brain injuries take a toll on entire families. It is important for us to consider and support not just the injured person but the close family members and caregivers who also face great difficulties.