Finding Support: After brain injury

Finding Support: After brain injury

Judy Sullivan, B.A. and Janelle Breese Biagioni

Family support after a member has a TBI or traumatic brain injury helps everyone cope. Helping families and survivors find support after brain injury can reduce stress, promote adjustment, reduce isolation, and help recovery. This tip card gives practical tips for creating formal and informal support systems at home and in the community by building friendships, joining support groups, and developing relationships.

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Full Description

Finding family support after TBI is not always easy. Families and survivors of brain injury often find that relationships with friends, coworkers and relatives change. Just when support is most needed, it can be difficult to find when others do not understand acquired brain injury. This brain injury information tip card describes how natural supports can help, as well as informal support from peers and friends. It discusses when more formal support and help from professionals is needed.

Tips give suggestions and practical strategies to help families and survivors build support systems to reduce isolation and strengthen relationships. A section for professionals includes tips on working with families and survivors.

Details
Item FISU
Pages 8
Year 2008

Authors

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.

Judy Sullivan, B.A.

With over 25 years experience in the area of mental health, for the past 8 years Judy Sullivan has combined that knowledge and expertise to help those experiencing brain injury. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

Contents

The Importance of Support

  • Natural supports
  • Peer support

Tips for seeking peer support…questions to ask

  • Professional supports

Tips for seeking professional support…questions to ask

Building a New Support System

  • Tips for persons with brain injury to create their own support
  • Tips for family members to create their own support
  • Tips for professionals to support survivors and families in creating their support

Conclusion

References

Excerpts

Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

The Importance of Support

Everyone needs support in their life at one time or another. Sometimes a simple phone call may be all that is needed. Other times, more support from a professional or a group may be required.

Natural supports

We often don’t think about the many supports that are already in our daily lives. Until they are gone, we may never even stop to think about them. For example, think of the many people you have contact with during the day and how each person makes your life better in some way. They may be people you rely on for something - for example, your doctor, lawyer or mechanic. Just as important are your personal relationships. Think about having phone calls with friends or family, getting together for a cup of coffee, sharing special events, or joining the daily chit chat with co-workers. Activities are another type of natural support. For example, taking a walk helps reduce stress, having a hobby leads to pride in making something, or volunteering helps others. These activities and relationships are what is called natural supports.

When someone has a brain injury, these natural supports usually change. They fall apart and disappear for some. Others find that only bits and pieces remain. The remaining supports may or may not be enough to pull them through daily needs and challenges.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by this tragedy with its losses. It is common to feel helpless and hopeless at times while struggling to cope and adjust. Many look toward others to put back together the pieces of their lives. This is human nature. We may wonder why shouldn’t someone else do it for us, haven’t we gone through enough? Dealing with your feelings and creating new supports will help you and your family cope with the many losses and changes in your lives.

Peer support

Most people find that being with others who have similar experiences lessens the feeling of being alone. This is peer support. It can be found with an individual or a group. Peer support can help you learn from others and help you rebuild your life. It helps build friendships with people who understand your feelings and what you are going through. Many state Brain Injury Associations offer programs, support groups or drop-in sessions to build peer support. However, when an individual’s emotions and feelings are complicated or do not lessen over time, additional professional supports may be needed.

Tips for seeking peer support…questions to ask

  • How alike or different are these members from me?
  • How common or different are their issues from mine?
  • What type of format is used for meetings, i.e. discussions, lectures, activities?
  • Is there a formal leader?
  • How often do they meet?

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