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.