Life Changes: When a spouse or partner has a brain injury

Life Changes: When a spouse or partner has a brain injury

Janelle Breese Biagioni and Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

Information and tips to help family spouses cope with feelings of loss and adjust to changes in roles when a husband or wife has a traumatic brain injury or blast injury. Explains importance of self-care and setting up a support system to cope with and relieve stress in families after TBI.

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Full Description

Discusses impact of a brain injury on the family when a husband or wife is injured. Examines changing roles and responsibilities of the non-injured spouse/partner. Shows how to activate a support system to relieve stress.

Discusses coping methods and common responses to changes in parenting, intimacy, and caregiving. Gives tips for talking with children, family, friends, and coworkers after head trauma in civilian life or combat.

Pages 8
Year 2007, second printing


Janelle Breese Biagioni

An author, international speaker and long-standing advocate for families and survivors of brain injury, Janelle Breese Biagioni knows first hand the stress and challenges of trying to be a parent to two children while simultaneously being a wife and primary caregiver to a husband with significant cognitive, behavioral and emotional challenges following a traumatic brain injury. Her personal experience led her to earn a Certificate in Death and Grief Studies at the Center for Loss and Life Transition in conjunction with Colorado State University. She speaks and writes frequently on bereavement and coping strategies for families affected by catastrophic injury with workshops and presentations on grief and loss at conferences and on television and radio.

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

She is a Founding Partner and President at Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, Inc. in Wake Forest, NC. Author of many publications on the psychosocial impact of brain injury, her writing and training emphasize coping strategies for families and practical interventions by professionals and educators in hospitals, rehabilitation, schools and community programs. Ms. Lash is on various national task forces on brain injury and editorial boards of rehabilitation journals. She is the Past Chair of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina and current Chair of the North Carolina Statewide Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury.


This tip card helps spouses and partners…

  • cope with feelings of loss
  • adjust to changes in roles
  • recognize importance of self-care
  • set up a support system

Impact on the Family

  • Loss is Part of Brain Injury

Importance of Self-Care

  • Tips for spouses and partners

Activating a Support System

  • Tips for talking with children, family, friends and coworkers


  • Tips for parenting

Life Changes

  • Tips for reconnecting as a family


  • Tips for reclaiming intimacy




Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Impact on the Family

A brain injury affects everyone in the family. Roles and responsibilities of the non-injured spouse/partner*, and often those of their children, change very quickly. This can feel overwhelming.

Some of the changes include…

  • assisting with physical care
  • giving emotional support
  • supervising for safety
  • helping with communication
  • managing new behaviors
  • advocating for legal, medical and community services
  • supplementing, or solely providing family income
  • *For simplicity, the word spouse is used for husband or wife; unmarried partners are also included.

Having lone responsibility for managing a home, including parenting and finances, can be incredibly stressful for the non-injured spouse. Common reactions are worrying, being confused, feeling overwhelmed, upset and frightened of the future. This can lead to anxiety, stress, anger and depression.

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