Life of a Person with a Brain Injury by William C. Jarvis, Ed.D.

I’m different

Brain Injury can feel like you are all alone.

Brain Injury can feel like you are all alone in your journey to recover.

People will never understand how different a Survivor of a Brain injury is after the injury. I hear things like, “You always loved animals!” or “You were always with the kids doing things.”

The things done before and thoroughly enjoyed are not possible now. The fatigue and stress of living in a new body prohibits abilities in so many ways. The easiest movement is now so difficult that a person with a brain injury may choose not do anything. A person with a brain injury may have to limit himself/herself in what to do because everything is so difficult.

People say, “Everyone gets older and tires more easily, forgets more, and has less interest in strenuous activities.” However, the continual effects of Brain Injury on top of normal aging are added challenges the normal person never experiences. There is always the potential to get other diseases as a normal person, but the person with a brain injury may also have poor balance, poor motor movement, or other symptoms related directly to the earlier injury.

It’s permanent

Yes, it is very real. Friends compliment on how much the person with a brain injury has improved, but never understand the effort it takes to appear normal. Then, when the person with a brain injury is aloof or does not want to do things, then people feel may be critical and see this a being uncooperative, cranky, or uncaring.  The person with a brain injury tries every day to be normal, but can’t because he/she is not!

What people do not realize is that having a Brain injury or Stroke is permanent in a physical sense, but can be overcome in a psychological sense. There is always a way to compensate for past abilities. A Survivor can be optimistic about life and what he/she can do! Therefore, physical difficulties might remain, but psychologically there is great hope! There is an opportunity to help others and make a difference.

Be supportive with compassion and encouragement

Therefore, be patient and understanding of the person with a brain injury, knowing that he/she is trying to improve but will often fall short. Responses to life will be different, memory may always be a problem, and language skills may be compromised in daily communication. However, with compassion and encouragement from others, slow improvement will be slowly made in crucial areas of life.

There are no easy answers for the person who has survived a brain injury.  The only answer is to take one day at a time, continue to work on areas needing improvement, remain optimistic about individual progress, and have the love and support of others!

5 responses to “Life of a Person with a Brain Injury by William C. Jarvis, Ed.D.”

  1. Stephanie Rivers says:

    I have a tbi..u r not the same person after a tbi. Your article is one thing I have heard before. People don’t understand. I’m thankful I got help for my but it’s on going day to day struggle.

  2. Ellen says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful and articulate article. I have heard all of these things and struggle myself with the fatigue, pain and depression that have changed “who I used to be”. It is hard coming to terms with the fact that my injury is permanent, it will not get better, but I can learn to accomodate for it.

  3. Eiman says:


  4. Christina Hoagland says:

    Also, those of us with damage to the Amygdala and pre-frontal cortex can have panic response to hypersensitivity and disinhibiton of all the senses. Earplugs, sunglasses, wearing smooth silk clothes, dressing carefully for the weather-(or the frigid air in theaters and office buildings) all play a role, but only take the edge off. Sudden, abrupt changes in environment can foment outbursts, biting, hitting, screaming and fighting. It is not, “all of a sudden for no reason, without warning” investigate and assist the survivor with exit strategies and also strategies to endure what cannot be escaped.

  5. Jacob Musgrave says:

    I am a severe TBI victim and would like to say thank you to the author of this article. Finally someone can relate! My head injury happened in ’98. even after all this time, I still feel like an outcast at times because I am not “normal!” I have found that my story is often an inspiration or motivation to anyone I meet.I hold my head high bc I know what I’ve been through and I’m still alive and walking and talking!

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