A broken bone can easily be recognized. Cuts, bruises, and other physical injuries could also be quickly spotted.
But what are the long-term, often unseen, effects of brain damage? And how do families cope?
How Injuries Affect The Brain
When the brain is injured, it is more than just a mere broken bone. The brain is the foundation for human behavior, thought, and communication. It is a network of cells, working together to orchestrate all of the functions a healthy person must carry out.
When the brain suffers injury, this can disrupt the harmony of that network. Brain injuries can affect how the brain itself works — each section of the brain handles a specific set of tasks (such as processing language), and injuries that that physical areas of the brain can affect the person’s ability to carry out said task. Moving, speaking, reading, learning, and socializing all make use of our brains — it is easy now to see why brain injury can have such broad, varied, and devastating consequences.
How Brain Injury Affects Speech
When the brain suffers injuries to the areas that handle speech and communication, the person’s ability to understand others — and covey their own needs and feelings — might be affected.
The injured person might have problems understanding humor or sarcasm. They might find it a challenge to convey their thoughts into spoken or written sentences. They might have frequent issues with “finding the right words” to say, and struggle to clearly communicate their needs and feelings.
How Brain Injury Affects Social Skills
Other times, the areas of the brain affected are those that handle impulse control, or cause a drastic change in personality and mood.
The injured person might seem distant and aloof. Or they might act inappropriately at times. They might make brash, impulsive decisions. Families and friends might feel like the injury left them with a total stranger.
How We Can Help The Injured
What is important to remember, is that brain injury goes far beyond just physical scars. It can have a lasting, devastating effect on everyone involved.
But there is hope. Speech therapy, with some patience, can help families communicate better with the injured person. Learning to redefine “normal”, and helping the injured adapt without developing any harmful habits, can go a long way towards helping them get their lives back together.
Victims of injury, as well as their families, might sometimes feel lost and lonely. Your social life might suffer. You might not know where to start looking for information.
Luckily, the internet can prove to be a great tool. Not only in providing with information, but, also, in connecting you to those who can help you.
The Internet As An Information Source
In the case of physical injuries, it might be difficult to visit attorneys, care facilities, and file the paperwork needed to get your life back together. The internet, with it’s wealth of information right at your fingertips, can make this process much easier.
- Research professionals — You might need legal and medical help in order to get through your injury. But how do you find the right physician or attorney to help you? The internet can offer an opportunity to research and review. There are many websites that allow, for example, past clients of personal injury attorneys to discuss their experiences working with a particular law professional. There are also websites where you can find information on care facilities and hospitals, and even schedule phone or in-person appointments with the ones you are interested in knowing more about.
- Find similar stories — Likewise, the internet can also provide you with access to stories similar to yours. This can not only serve as a comforting read — a reminder that you’re not alone in this — but, it can also provide cautionary tales. What missteps did others make in dealing with their injuries? This information could prove invaluable.
Well-informed people are rarely easy to take advantage of. Utilizing the internet as a tool, you can inform and educate yourself about what to expect, and what to avoid.
Connecting With The World
Severe injuries can affect your social life. Hobbies you once enjoyed with friends — such as working out and playing sports — are now a thing of the past. Changes in behavior resulting from head injuries can alienate your from friends and loved ones. If your injuries keep you at home for too long, you might find yourself with little opportunity to socialize with others.
In recent years, however, the internet has grown as a social tool. Now more than ever, people meet and befriend each other — and even fall in love! — online. As a social tool, the internet can offer:
- An outlet for your thoughts — There are many websites that offer “blogging” tools. These can be used as a sort of online journal, where you can document your journey living with injury. For the more adventurous, websites like YouTube can offer a more personal experience, allowing you to record your thoughts in the form of video. Recording your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool in rehabilitation, since you can then look back on these achieves to see how you have improved and recovered.
- Finding support — Many smaller communities exist online, dedicated to bringing together people with a common struggle or goal. Here, you can find encouragement and support, and join people who are going through the same as you and your family.
Finding Information And Support For Life After An Injury
The internet has become a powerful tool for everyday life. It can provide a means for research and source of information, and it can also provide a comforting source of support — improving the quality of life after injury.
The aftermath of an injury can be confusing, more so if you are dealing with an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Acting quickly and swiftly can make all the difference.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If there are other parties involved, and, should you need to take your case to court, the other person could claim that your worsened your injuries by failing to seek care promptly — and this could hurt your chances to receive compensation.
Following an accident, you must seek immediate medical attention. Even if you feel perfectly fine, a car accident or a fall could have still caused unseen damage. Getting to a doctor quickly, you will be able to get a professional opinion on any injuries you may have sustained.
Record Your Version Of The Story
Again, if your case ends up being taken to court, you will need a record of everything. Careful, accurate records are your first line of defense to ensuring you get fair compensation for your injuries.
- Get contact information for everyone involved. In the case of a car accident, you should also get information on the vehicles involved, as well as insurance information.
- Collect your memories. You should do this as quickly as possible, to ensure that you do not forget any details. Nowadays, smartphones are equipped with cameras and voice recorders, as well as many diary-style applications being available for them. Use these to your advantage, and take a detailed “snapshot” of your accident.
- Report the accident. In the case of a car accident, you should call the police. For slips and falls, have management file an accident report. Reporting your accident can help you make sure that every detail of the story is taken into account.
Keep Proof Of Everything
Hard evidence is difficult for courts to ignore. Make sure you keep copies of everything related to your injury — any medical bills, any x-rays of tests results, and anything that could help you explain the extent of your injuries.
Remain Calm — You Can Get Through This
Being injured is scary. But, if you remain calm, take careful notes, and contact help quickly, you can ensure that your life after injury is that much easier.
“I’m not one of those people — why would I sue?”
If your injury was the result of an accident — caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness — you might feel some apprehensions about suing. You might have heard people whisper and talk about cases such as the hot coffee case. You’re not money-hungry, you just want this injury to go away so you can get on with your life. Why sue?
The truth is, when it comes to injuries, the consequences — monetary and emotional — cannot be easily quantified. You’re not suing to get rich, or even to get extra money — you are suing so you can cover the expenses that this tragic injury has brought onto you. You are seeking compensation for:
- Medical bills: Hospital stays, medications, x-rays, appointments — it all adds up. Who will pay for your medical care?
- Lost wages: Your injury has forced you to take time off work. How will you recover your lost income?
- Other expenses: You might need to travel far to get the medical care you need. You might even have to ask relatives to take time off work to help you. Who will compensate your family for that?
Certain injuries can be so severe, you might not be able to ever return to your previous line of work, or enjoy some of the activities and hobbies you used to.
Life after injury can be difficult. But you don’t have to go through it alone — seeking compensation for an accident is about getting the help you need to move on.
Caring for an injured person can put stress on their families, and disrupt relationships — research shows that divorce is more prevalent in couples where one partner suffered a brain injury. It is obvious, then, than one of the main goals of rehabilitation should be to reduce stress — not just for the injured, but for the family.
But how can you reduce stress in life after injury?
No guilty feelings
The first step to coping with the stress of your new “normal”, is to realize that you are not to “blame” for anything you might feel.
It can be easy to grow frustrated, even angry, with an injured person. Our drive to see them recover — to see things go “back to normal” — can set off emotions in everyone involved. This entirely, and completely, normal. You are not a bad spouse, parent, child, or friend, for feeling these emotions.
Communication is key
In dealing with life after injury, communication is key. Help the injured — and yourself — by keeping clear, simple instructions to tasks the injured needs help with.
This can greatly reduce frustrations, since everyone can quickly refer to the written instructions when in need — even the injured person. It can be a very small step that reduces a lot of the everyday stress those caring for the injured face.
With a little help from our friends
Pride can sometimes be exactly what is holding us back. When facing life after injury, you might feel like you need to “do it on your own”. That this is a test, and you have to prove how strong your family is, by overcoming this without anyone’s assistance.
Allow yourself to accept help. Network, make friends. Working together, so that no one person bears the entire burden of keeping things together, can reduce everyone’s stress.
It’s not always easy
Life after injury is not always easy — as many say, it is a journey in discovering a new definition of “normal”, with many ups and down. There are, however, things you can do to help you and your family cope.