Advocate For Your Traumatic Brain Injury Hospitalized Patient

Brain Injury Blog By Marie Gibson

January 9, 2013

Advocate for your hospitalized Traumatic Brain Injury patient with these simple tips 

A Traumactic Brain Injury patient is rarely able to advocate for themselves and it’s important that family and friends know how to help properly.  If your family member is to be in the hospital or rehab due to a brain injury for a lengthy stay there are some things that you can do to make the time less difficult.  These tips are simple and non-intrusive.  Also, when you have multiple family caregivers it’s essential to record the conversations of the medical professionals so that you know of any changes to medications, additional tests that were given and keep up to date on changes in the patient’s behavior.  Tracking and sharing that information is the purpose of The Caregiver’s Journal.  

This article is part one of a three part series that will help you step into an advocacy role, feel more confident about your role as a caregiver, and communicate effectively with medical professionals.  These tips and actions are practical and provide real life advice to help you navigate through the countless tests, doctors, nurses, therapists, medicines and other medical professionals and new terminology.  Moving forward, accept that you have a steep learning curve and apply yourself persistently.  

Part 1. Compassion and comfort for your patient

  • If possible, stay with your patient as much as possible—your patient really will need help listening to the medical professionals and communicating with them.
  • Provide extra emotional support and encouragement—not fear—for your patient.
  • Patients may be unable to comprehend simple directions because of medication and physical challenges—be patient.
  • Help your patient with meals—it’s important because they may not feel like eating and they do need their nutrition.
  • Encourage your patient to perform the therapist’s exercises—but don’t scold.  Make a light-hearted activity of having them show you what new movements they can make.
  • You need to become the cheerleader for your patient—not the other way around.  They may lose their strength, balance or mobility while ill and may need reminders to keep trying to rebuild.
  • Keep up the positive encouragement without being annoying or bossy. Emo­tions can run a little high. Your expec­tations may be too high for the patient—it’s a fine-line between pushing to recover and pushing too much.

Stay tuned for our next article:  Tips for communication and collaboration with medical staff and others.

Marie Gibson is an author and speaker who advises caregivers on how family members can become crucial advocates for their hospitalized family member, and who also leads employee training at health care institutions.  She is author of The Caregiver’s Journal and Peace of Mind for Caring Hearts and Helping Hands.

Using an organizational tracking tool like The Caregiver’s Journal will provide greater clarity in comforting your patient, communicating and collaborating for their health with the medical professionals and you will have more confidence and control of your own emotions.  If you find these tips valuable, you’ll find more at

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