Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury
Written by Greg on June 24, 2017
The incidence of traumatic brain injury in the United States has been on the increase in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistics maintained by the CDC reveal that over a 10-year period in which the agency monitored traumatic brain injury rates, the incidence went from 521 per 100,000 people to almost 824 per 100,000 individuals in the country.
The cohort of folks identified with traumatic brain injuries include people who required only an emergency room visit and recovered to persons with a permanent impairment to those who died from this type of injury.
A significant number of traumatic brain injuries are caused by the negligence of another party. These include car accidents, work-related accidents, and other types of incidents arising from some type of negligence. Brain injuries also happen by participating in contact sports such as football.
Of the nearly 824 per 100,000 individuals who suffered a traumatic brain injury, 17 died, 92 required hospitalization and 715 were admitted and discharged from the emergency department of a medical center.
A significant percentage of the 92-people diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury requiring hospitalization had with long-term consequences. In other words, they are living with the ramifications of a traumatic brain injury.
A Healthy Brain
Before discussing how to live with a traumatic brain injury, it is important to understand how a healthy brain functions. The structure of the brain consists of what are known as neurons, or brain cells. The neurons form what are described as tracks that serve to route messages to different parts of the brain. Because of the delicate nature of brain tissue, the skull provides a much-needed protective coating.
The brain operates by using the messages routed through the neuron tracks described a moment ago. These messages are responsible for the performance of an array of different bodily functions. Including the coordination of the systems in a person’s body, including breathing, heart rate, metabolism, and body temperature.
The brain controls the senses. The brain manages bodily movements. It controls thoughts, emotions, and an individual’s personality.
Moving Forward After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Most individuals who sustain a traumatic brain injury recover fairly quickly. In many instances, a concussion is an example of a less severe traumatic brain injury from which a full recovery is possible.
On the other hand, someone who suffers a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury can face the prospect of an extended period on the road to recovery.
Moreover, many individuals with a moderate to more severe traumatic brain injury will never fully recover. These people face a life that needs to be reinvented to adapt. Also, there will be limitations that need to be accepted because of the head injury.
The Importance of Rehabilitation
A major component of living with a traumatic brain injury is rehabilitation. Rehabilitation comes in two general forms: physical and occupational. Physical rehabilitation is designed to restore a person’s functional ability. In the case of a traumatic brain injury, this can include such basic functions as walking or using arms and hands.
Occupational therapy involves therapy designed to assist a person in returning to work following a traumatic brain injury. This type of treatment is to help a person in relearning certain other activities of daily living. Depending on the circumstances, this can include such tasks as dressing, bathing, and prepare meals.
Psychological and Emotional Assistance and Support
In addition to the physical rehabilitative process, a key element of successfully living with a traumatic brain injury is accessing appropriate professional psychological support. Also, it is crucial to develop an emotional support system as well.
There are psychologists that focus their work on assisting people afflicted with the aftereffects of a traumatic brain injury. A person suffering from a traumatic brain injury is wise to take a proactive stance in obtaining this type of assistance.
A person with a traumatic brain injury would not put off accessing physical therapeutic intervention. Nor should he or she delay regarding professional help for psychological and emotional matters.
In the aftermath of an accident that results in a traumatic brain injury, a person often faces issues with interacting with other people. Social problems can be the result of cognitive impairment, emotional issues, and other challenges.
A critical step to effectively living with a traumatic brain injury is accessing resources to assist a person with social reintegration. Isolation can enhance the symptoms and complications associated with a traumatic brain injury.
In nearly all cases in which a person suffers a moderate to more severe traumatic brain injury, the development of structure and methods assists in living effectively with this type of condition. The predictability of set routines lessens a person’s anxiety level and helps a person with a traumatic brain injury in meeting reasonable, meaningful goals.
Support Services for Family and Friends
Following a traumatic brain injury, a person with lasting issues will present challenges to friends and family members. Dealing with the aftermath of a head injury is a reality for both the victim and family.
There are specialized support services, organizations, and groups available to loved ones of a person afflicted with a traumatic brain injury. Connecting with these resources is not only beneficial to family and friends but assists an individual with a traumatic brain injury by extension.
A key element associated with living with a traumatic brain injury is acceptance. In human psychology, acceptance is a person’s ability to accept the reality of a situation and the inability to change or alter at least certain aspects of it. In the aftermath of suffering a traumatic brain injury, a person needs to reach a point at which he or she accepts potential long-term or even permanent limitations in his or her life.
Acceptance must not be misconstrued with “giving up.” Indeed, a person with a traumatic brain injury must attempt to undertake any and all steps available that possible can improve his or her post-accident condition or status.
However, there must be associated realistic expectations regarding what can and cannot be accomplished in the way of rehabilitation and other efforts to enhance a person’s life once afflicted with a traumatic brain injury.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/data/rates.html