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A brain injury is a family injury. Whether you are a spouse, parent, sibling, or child, each of you is affected in some way. The losses of brain injury are more than medical and physical changes in how a person functions, speaks or walks. The impact of a brain injury changes over time for families from the initial shock to the slow process of rebuilding relationships and reshaping the future.

The changes and losses for a family are many, from changes in roles, responsibilities, communication, finances, to changes in friends, jobs, and income. These blog articles offer experiences of families, as well as perspectives by clinicians, on how families have been affected along with coping strategies for the long journey of brain injury.

Are We Asking Too Much of Families? by Marilyn Lash, MSW

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Rosemary Rawlins’ book Learning by Accident is a very personal account of her husband Hugh’s brain injury that is unlike any other book I have read. What is so very special is how she brings the reader into her home as a wife and mother who is thrust into the world of caregiving. Unfortunately, her experience is not unique. What is unique is how she chronicles her husband’s journey from the brink of death through the long grind of surgeries, therapies, and complications into an uncertain future for their marriage, their children, his employment, and their future.

This book made me rethink what we ask of families in this world of managed care with shorter hospital stays. We give enormous challenges to families as they become the rehabilitation providers at home – yet too often, we do not give them the support, information or resources they need. This book will make you both admire what family caregivers do and also make you question why we do not help them more.

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Family Chaos or Cohesion? by Rosemary Rawlins

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We grow up in our families and we come to know what to expect from day to day. Family routines, schedules, rituals, and traditions reinforce our sense of security and belonging. Shared values, love, and trust bind us. So it follows that when something unexpected and devastating happens to one family member, each member of the family is profoundly affected.

Finding a new family rhythm after one member has sustained a brain injury can be challenging at best or chaotic at worst, because brain injury causes immediate and drastic changes for all family members.

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Holiday Stress – Just Don’t Say Anything Please by Jodi Ginter

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Jodi Ginter lost her Dad when he had a severe traumatic brain injury years ago but he survived and is living – as a very different person. The recent holidays reminded her of how much has been lost for him and for their father/daughter relationship as painful memories resurfaced. How have you coped with the holidays?

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Wounded Families in the Aftermath of PTSD: The Invisible Emotional Wounds by Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

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For so many returning service members and veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the question may be, “Are your emotions ready for intimacy?” Sex and intimacy are very different. While sex is a physical act, intimacy is an emotional connection. loss of intimacy. Tt is the elephant in the room that too often is not discussed with family, friends, physicians, or counselors. When the connection between loss of intimacy and PTSD is not understood, too many partners “take it personally” and feel unloved, unworthy, unattractive, and rejected. Whether the demands for sex are constant or sex is avoided for long periods, loss of intimacy can undermine the very core of a couple’s relationship.

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Brain Injury and Grief: Fact or Fiction? by Janelle Breese Biagioni

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The grief that follows a brain injury often perplexes relatives, friends, and coworkers. After all, if the person survived the brain injury, shouldn’t the reaction be joy, relief and gratitude? Janelle Breese Biagioni explores the meaning of grief and loss after TBI and why mourning is so important for emotional healing.

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Who’s Who in This Family Now by Rosemary Rawlins

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One family life ends and another begins when a spouse, parent, child, or sibling has a brain injury. When traumatic brain injury strikes a family, everybody suffers. Roles flip, responsibilities shift, and stress mounts. Until the extent of the injury is known, and healing begins, remaining family members take on what added responsibilities they can, and learn to do without—without the counsel, connection, and comfort of someone they once relied on. Rosemary Rawlins describes how her family and children made it through the hardest first two years after her husband High’s TBI and gives suggestions on coping.

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You’re Not the Only One – Support for Spouses of TBI Survivors by Casey Bachus

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Casey Bachus shares her loneliness as a spouse after her husband Jeff’s traumatic brain injury and her search to find support and resources. She encourages spouses not to struggle alone with their feelings of loss and abandonment but to reach out to other spouses of TBI to for support and information on this long and uncertain journey of brain injury.

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Why Bother with Families after Brain Injury?

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Families are short changed when clinicians and professionals are not committed to informing, supporting and educating them about the journey of brain injury. I am constantly struck by the comment I have heard far too often over the years, “You have to dumb it down for families.” Whether the comment is directed to explaining a diagnosis or treatment plan or writing a pamphlet or manual, I find that comment insulting, derogatory, and elitist. It’s time to reexamine our attitudes and how we approach informing families, who after all, are the primary caregivers and support system for so many survivors.

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Families of TBI Survivors

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As you well may know, victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s) are not the only ones who face a tough and challenging road ahead of themselves. Families of survivors face just as much fear and confusion a TBI sufferer will most certainly be feeling. Imagine if you will, the long wait in an emergency room in a trauma center, you’re confused, scared and worried beyond belief, for the loved one who has just been brought in after their tragic accident.

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Connected: Resolving Grief after Brain Injury through Words by Dr. Carolyn Roy-Bornstein

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I imagine I talk to my young adult son with about the same frequency as any other mother, which is to say possibly once a week, and even then, only when I call him. I suspect Neil and I touch on the same subjects other moms and sons talk about—his graduate school program, my work, the family.

What perhaps makes our relationship different is that I’ve written a book about my son… And he has read it… Multiple times.

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