How to Support Someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or persistent Post-Concussion symptoms (PCS)
It’s vital for the injured that their support system (friends, family, and medical staff) understand and remember the difficulties TBI and PCS sufferers face on a daily basis.
People with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and persistent Post-Concussion symptoms (PCS) may look perfectly fine on the outside. No cast or sling, not even a bandage on their person. But they are suffering on the inside—emotionally and physically. It can be hard to understand someone’s injury when it’s not visible and a person looks well; harder to understand the mental and physical side effects these Silent Sufferers experience as a result of that unseen injury.
Most of us are used to hearing of injuries that could require a few weeks or months of little to no movement—a broken wrist, a fractured ankle, a snapped collarbone, and so forth. But the brain? The brain, our command center, is the most complex organ in the human body. It can take years for an injured person to recover from a brain injury or concussion. And during that time, they need the support of their loved ones.
But sometimes they can feel like their support system is waning—“Nobody wants to listen to me,” or “I don’t think they believe me anymore.” This is what they want you to know:
- Be patient. I don’t look sick, but it does take me more time to process thoughts as well as actions. Conversations and chores that were once easy or automatic now have to be re-learned. It usually takes lots of repetition or practice for the task to be mastered, too. Patience from you will encourage me to keep trying and most importantly, will remind me of your love.
- Keep it short(er). You may want to cheer me up by taking me out, but understand sensory overload can occur quickly in loud or crowded places. Take me someplace quiet, and remember to keep activities or conversation on the shorter side since it takes longer for me to process everything.
- Offer your time. When asking me a question, please give me the time to answer. It may take a bit, but that’s only because what was once automatic in my brain now has to be manually sought for!
- Understand the new me. It’s not that I don’t like my friends anymore—it’s just so hard to follow quick-moving conversations with multiple people. The noise, words, and even facial expressions can bring about sensory overload or confusion. It’s sometimes easiest to “disconnect” from the situation, which I know can appear rude, but it’s how I protect my brain.
- Recognize when I am drained. Recognize the signs of when my brain is overloaded and when I need rest.
- Love me. You and I both know I may not be the same person I was before my brain injury, but please don’t make me feel guilty for that. Please learn to love who I am now.
- Understand my injury. Please learn from me but also learn about my condition. It will help you with the previous five requests when my situation makes you feel impatient, hopeless, or even dubious.
Do you know someone who is still suffering from their TBI or PCS? Please encourage them to visit IsItMyEyes.com. The short questionnaire will better help determine if their TBI or PCS affected their vision, which in turn leads to many other issues including (but not limited to): headaches, dizziness, anxiety, facial pain, neck or shoulder pain, nausea, motion sickness, or blurred/doubled vision.