Family and caregivers often complain of a survivor’s anger after a traumatic brain injury. They say the person is hard to get along with and that affects their relationships. Mike Strand gives his view as a person with a brain injury that anger is about more than emotions and brain trauma. It’s also about communication and cognition. He talks about how he reacts when others accuse him of being angry and describes both his thought process and emotional reactions. This blog gives insights into what’s behind the behavior that is so easily termed “anger’ by caregivers and family members.
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Traumatic brain injury in the United States:
At least 1.4 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury each year. Of these, about 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department. (CDC)
Changes in a family member’s mood, emotions, and personality after a brain injury can be frustrating and puzzling for spouses, children and parents. But increased irritability and aggression after a brain injury can disrupt marriages, jeopardize employment, and increase conflicts and stress at home. Dr. Flora Hammond at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana is conducting research that is giving a better understanding of irritability and aggression after brain injury and is developing more effective treatment with medication.
Family members who are also caregivers for a parent, spouse, child or sibling with a brain injury or PTSD can have a secondary traumatic stress response, also known as compassion fatigue. Secondary traumatic stress can occur when a responsible and caring person is exposed to the sights, sounds, smells, or stories from the injured person and feels responsible for diminishing that person’s suffering. Secondary traumatic stress occurs in degrees of severity along a continuum from a brief acute response to a longer-lasting, more serious disorder. It can directly affect the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual well being and health of caregivers.
My husband’s brain injury in Iraq changed my children’s world. Their Daddy was no longer invincible in their eyes and they did not know what he would be like when he came home. I started writing a story to help my children with their confusion, fears, worries and questions. It eventually became the book Our Daddy Is Invincible!. It has now helped many other children of service members with all types of injuries and PTSD as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Its message conveys the strength and resilience of children as they explore the “new normal” of their life at home.
Many wives of wounded warriors have commented that too much of the attention on post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD in our veterans and service members focuses on its negative aspects and not enough attention is given to effective treatment and progress. The American Psychiatric Associate is debating whether to officially change the wording from “disorder” to “injury” which might lessen the stigma associated with mental health treatment. For those wives who live with the fall-out from PTSD on a daily basis, Marshele Waddell offers an alternative name for PTSD that offers hope and progress.
Now caregivers as well as wives and mothers, many women are finding that the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have changed not only their husbands but their entire family. As these women speak out about the changes in their marriages, parenting, and relationship, it becomes clear that the emotional trauma of war affects every member in the family as the wounded warrior comes home.
A brain injury can cause intense stress and anxiety for survivors, family members and caregivers. It can feel overwhelming and make it difficult for you to simply get through the day. It can make it harder to think clearly, solve problems and plan ahead. By learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms of your stress and anxiety, you can learn how to use techniques to lessen and manage stress and anxiety. This is the first step in regaining control as you rebuild your lives and begin the journey of living with brain injury.
The symptoms and changes caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are both similar and different. It can be stressful, frustrating, and difficult for family, spouses, and caregivers to know which condition is causing the changes in behavior, emotions or cognition. These invisible wounds are much harder to recognize than the physical changes, but they can be life altering. As wounded warriors return home, their families are struggling to understand their effects. Using an example of erratic driving and road rage, this blog post illustrates the compounded effects of PTSD and TBI.
If you believed everything you hear, you’d think hardly any one stays married after a brain injury. It’s a commonly believed that most marriages end in separation or divorce after a spouse has a traumatic brain injury. I’ve often heard folks quote an unknown source that, “Ninety percent of survivors of brain injury wind up divorced.” This is not exactly true. The reasons why relationships change after brain injury are complicated. Some research on marital relationships when a partner has a brain injury or a disability share some light on this.
Barbara Webster, author of the tip card Memory Strategies after Brain Injury shares strategies and tips that can be used daily at home. Daily life can be complicated for anyone, but it can be even more complex and stressful if you have a memory impairment after a brain injury. By designing and using strategies that fit into your personal routine, you can develop a system that works for you and your lifestyle. It has to be practical, easy to use, and address your needs for it to work for you! That’s the bottom line…does it help you remember?