Traumatic Brain Injury: What Caretakers Can Expect


It doesn’t take much to suffer a traumatic brain injury, and, contrary to a popular myth, an impact isn’t required. The sudden jerking motion caused by an impact is enough to force the brain to slam against the inside of the skull, and that can result in bruising.

If this happens to a loved one, you may find yourself taking on the role of caretaker over an extended period of time. This guide will help you learn what to expect.

You’ll Have To Assess the Individual’s Abilities

Before you even bring your loved one home, you should take the time to assess the changes in their abilities. A traumatic brain injury can cause behavioral changes as well as impacting their cognitive health. This means they will be quite different from the person you knew, and they likely won’t be able to do all of the things they could do before the accident. This may include a tendency to wander off, so be sure your loved one is always wearing some type of identification, such as a medical bracelet.

You’ll also have to make their home safer just as a new parent would child-proof their home. Look for places where they may be likely to fall, trip, or hit their head and install safety features, such as railings, skid resistant flooring, and foam bumpers. In creating a new structure for the individual, make family members and guests aware of the situation and the need for added caution.

Prepare for Long-Term Care

There are many complexities in ensuring the continued financial and legal care for your loved one, so working with an attorney can help. You can call for a free case evaluation, to learn more about what you’ll need to do in pursuing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid for your loved one.

If there was a settlement or lawsuit award as the result of an accident that caused the TBI, you may need legal help to have the funds placed in a special needs trust. Since someone with a traumatic brain injury cannot have access to funds over $2,000, you will have to establish a conservatorship or another type of legal guardianship.

What Specific Changes Can You Expect?

The symptoms your loved one will exhibit will vary based upon the area of the brain that was injured. While they may experience some of these symptoms and only a few to severe degrees, you should be prepared to help them manage or alleviate these symptoms as much as possible. Common TBI symptoms include:

  • Short attention span
  • Lack of short term memory
  • Inhibited problem solving skills
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Impaired reading/writing skills
  • Inhibited communication skills, including limited vocabulary
  • Unable to learn new things

Don’t Forget To Care for Yourself

As you’re caring for your loved one, it’s important to know when you’re taking on too much. You shouldn’t be spending so much time on your loved one that you’re neglecting your other friends and loved ones. You should also be making time to engage in physical activities and stress reduction activities.

In addition to your meals, work, and family obligations, you should also have an hour to yourself to do whatever you enjoy doing. Remember to take care of yourself. If this all seems like too much, this may be a sign that you need help from other family members or from a professional caregiver.

In some cases, a traumatic brain injury is only temporary and may heal in time. In many instances, however, a TBI can lead to a permanent disability. It can affect an individual’s ability to function, recall memories, or maintain positive relationships with others. Taking on the care responsibilities of such an individual can be stressful and time consuming, but there are government resources to help lighten the burden. Be sure to investigate your options to find out if your loved one is entitled to additional benefits.