(Cited from: http://smope.net/the-trauma-behind-brain-injury-smope/ )
When a person undergoes a traumatic brain injury, their life is abruptly overturned. This is because unlike other body parts that heal over time but, don’t affect your mind or personality, a brain injury affects your mental process and at times physical abilities.
The main issue of this injury is that most often people are unaware of the fact that they have an injury until it’s too late, as symptoms may not appear right away.
Effects of brain injury
There are two types of traumatic brain injuries affecting mental health:
- Mild- When a person loses consciousness and becomes disoriented for less than 30 minutes, this is called mild traumatic brain injury. Doctors often overlook mild brain injuries. But, it causes a host of problems for the person like difficulty in processing things, memory issues, fluctuations in mood, not being able to pay attention etc.
- Severe: Severe traumatic brain injuries is when the patient loses consciousness for more than 30 minutes and loss of memory that lasts for more than 24 hours after the injury. Survivors may have limited control over their limbs, loss of cognitive function. They often require long-term rehabilitation, as the effects are so serious.
Car accidents, falls and firearms cause most traumatic brain injuries. Of the three, firearms are the most dangerous and cause most of the fatalities associated with traumatic brain injury.
Surviving the trauma
All those who have survived brain injuries have had to deal with several problems such as:
- Fatigue– A person with traumatic brain injuries is always tired because the brain requires more energy to heal and works harder than usual. A brain injury also affects sleeping patterns. To help overcome fatigue try to exercise well, eat a balanced diet, avoid alcohol and caffeine and avoid napping.
- Cognitive symptoms– If a person is unable to focus for long, is confused all the times, has difficulty making decisions , has problems identifying objects and has a decreased awareness of his surroundings, then he is facing cognitive symptoms. The best thing to do in this situation is to consult a neuropsychologist. He will conduct some tests to find out whether the brain injury has affected your thinking.
- Social anxiety– It is hard for the person to concentrate in public and the noise and crowds only end up confusing the person and worrying him or her.
- Depression, anxiety– Most survivors have become depressed as the brain injury has affected their emotional well-being.
A caregiver is a person who looks after a patient who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. There are certain principles that caregivers follow while looking after such patients:
- Independence- The main aim of a caregiver is to help the person who has suffered such a trauma to regain their independence. They must help the person perform daily tasks and eventually let the person handle it on their own.
- Understanding- The caregiver must be aware that no two brain injuries are the same and therefore must deal with each individual according to his specifications.
- Strategize- Observe the tbi survivor and make a list of their abilities and deficits. Work with the survivor to understand what they is feeling and what they is most afraid of the most.
- The sooner the better- It is best that the caregiver starts working with the survivor to achieve their goals as soon as possible after the injury.
- Give control- The survivor should feel like they are in control of the situation and can handle it.
- Safety first- It is important that you must keep the survivors safety as a priority and not undertake any step that can heighten the injury.
(We believe that traumatic brain injury survivors and our community need smiles and hope to continue on this journey called healing. So, we created the Smope App to help you smile and increase your hope – Got Smope?)
What they’ve forgotten to include is Sensory issues… Such as becoming overwhelmingly sensitive to light, sounds, movements, sensations on the skin, tastes, scents/smells, and many other things that are tied to emotional and physical reactions.
After my brain injury (the last one, the worst of them all) I was not only MORE sensitive than ever before.. (even with my SPD – Sensory Perception Disorder issues).. I could almost not bare anything at all. I still have issues with flickering light, whether if be very faintly coming from a lamp with a low watt bulb, or traveling in the sunlight through the woods where I live, or the soft and gentle waving of a group of leaves as their shadows dance on my floor. Everything seems un-muted, louder, brighter and amplified. All things – tastes, scents, lights, everything and anything that enters my brain seems so overwhelming. It is even worse with consistent panic attacks and overall constant anxiety. Of course, they’re all tied together and transversely cause each other and make each thing worse. It’s rough!!
Sometimes the things most people don’t notice about others, or cannot see them experiencing, are the most debilitating things us survivors go through.
We need to all be more compassionate, understanding as can be, and to be way more kind to one another in this world. Some of us are struggling by just waking up each day. Some of us are pushing ourselves beyond our own limits are forcing ourselves to be or act, or do, or say “normal” things most people take so, so, soooo, for granted.
It’s not easy living with the invisible(to most people) and silent illnesses and side-effects of brain injuries. To us, it is deafening. To you, it may seem a figment of our imaginations or being “too” whatever you wish to name it… “sensitive,” or “impractical,” or worst of all, “lazy.” None of these things are in our control. If it were, we’d chose NOT to live with it. I assure you of that.
Thanks for reading. 🙂