Acquired brain injury (ABI) refers to brain damage that has occurred after birth. It may be caused by a traumatic head injury, stroke, brain tumour, poisoning, infection and substance abuse.
People with acquired brain injury can experience issues associated with physical, cognitive, behavioural, social and emotional changes. These impairments can either be temporary or permanent and can cause a specific or widespread disability. With the challenges people with ABI face, they require special support that is tailored to their needs.
If you have someone in your life with an acquired brain injury, here are some suggestions on how you can provide support.
Be patient as much as possible
Brain injuries have side effects that are unpredictable. Patients dealing with this condition may become disoriented and confused at some point. As such, it is important to remain as calm and patient as possible. Your loved one is going through a difficult phase in his or her life and the last thing he or she needs is your negativity or judgment. Do not take it personally if they get angry or agitated. Instead, show them your love, support and understanding.
Help them be organised
It is common for people with ABI to experience memory loss. They find it difficult to remember where they put things and they often miss appointments they need to attend. If your loved ones are experiencing memory issues, you can help them by keeping things organised. Make a calendar of appointments and try to label cabinets to help them remember where they can find their items. Make sure to do this respectfully so they won’t feel overwhelmed and too controlled.
Provide a sense of normalcy
Brain injuries can change many aspects of someone’s life. As such, they may often feel out of place, uncomfortable and uncertain with their actions. To help them feel comfortable, provide a sense of normality and structure to their life. Encourage the use of a daily schedule to establish a routine. You may also provide opportunities for them to do things independently to help them rebuild their self-esteem.
Some brain injuries can be severe, causing some individuals to struggle with everyday tasks due to lack of energy. They can often feel fatigued and weak, which makes it hard for them to achieve simple errands. To ease their struggle, you may offer to do it for them. They will surely appreciate the assistance that you’ve provided throughout their recovery.
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