Changes in Self Awareness after brain injury

Changes in Self Awareness after brain injury

McKay Moore Sohlberg, Ph.D.

The survivor’s awareness of changes in abilities and skills after a brain injury can affect everything from willingness to enter therapy to accepting help and support. The effects of lowered self awareness can range a belief that “nothing has changed” to stubborn resistance and serious safety risks. This tip card helps survivors, family members, and therapists understand the reasons for altered awareness and gives strategies to compensate.

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Full Description

Changes in self awareness after traumatic brain injury can result in difficulties for the survivor with TBI and the family. Impaired self awareness can limit or slow recovery because individuals may not follow therapy or treatment recommendations. Efforts by family members to help can be especially frustrating if the person insists that “everything is fine” or “I don’t need help.” This tip card describes 4 major causes of altered awareness after a brain injury and provides tips and strategies for therapists and caregivers.

Details
Item CSAW
Pages 8
Year 2007

Authors

McKay Moore Sohlberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Sohlberg is a nationally recognized leader in the field of traumatic brain rehabilitation.  For the past 21 years she has worked as a clinician, researcher and administrator in the development of programs to assist individuals with brain injury to reintegrate into the community at maximal levels of independence.  The types of intervention programs that she has developed and about which she has conducted research have become model programs adopted by rehabilitation centers throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Dr. Sohlberg received her master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Washington.  She is currently professor in the Communication Disorders Program at the University of Oregon.  She conducts clinical research aimed at developing and evaluating methods to help adolescents and adults manage cognitive changes after brain injury.

Contents

This tip card helps therapists, clinicians, families and caregivers...

  • understand sources and types of unawareness
  • use strategies to lesson effects of unawareness

Why is Self Awareness Important?

Sources of Unawareness

  • Source 1: Direct injury to brain structures responsible for awareness
  • Source 2: Direct injury to structures responsible for thinking processes
  • Source 3: Psychological denial
  • Source 4: No opportunity to experience changes

What Helps Unawareness?

Education

Feedback

Communicating about Unawareness

Tips for Therapists and Caregivers

Examples of Positive Restatements

Examples of Compromise

Conclusion

References

Excerpts

Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Why is Self Awareness Important?

Self awareness is the ability to view ourselves somewhat objectively. It is also the ability to see ourselves from the perspective of other people. It allows us to use feedback from others as we develop our personal identity. We rely on self awareness when we…

  • interact socially with others
  • decide what situations or information to share
  • make judgments about ourselves
  • act in ways that insure our personal safety

Brain injury can impair the critical capacity for self awareness. This can result in many problems for the individual who has been injured as well as the family. Research has shown that impaired self awareness often limits or slows down recovery. Individuals may not follow therapy recommendations or participate in supportive efforts because they do not recognize that they have a problem. Several studies have shown that employment outcomes for people with impaired self awareness are lower than for people who don’t experience this difficulty after brain injury.

The caregivers of people with brain injury who have poor self awareness also tend to report greater levels of stress. Caregivers may find themselves arguing with a person displaying unawareness when this person does not see or acknowledge the problem. This can be especially challenging when it involves personal safety or danger. Understanding the nature of unawareness and becoming familiar with some basic management strategies may help those who care for or treat people with awareness deficits.

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