One ordinary moment can turn into the moment that changes your life forever. If you are in an accident, such as a car crash or a fall from a ladder, you may be suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). People who suffer from moderate to severe TBIs can experience significant long-term and even lifelong effects.
If you are recovering from a TBI, you aren’t alone. Approximately 2.87 million people in the United States suffered from a traumatic brain injury in 2014 and that number hasn’t decreased. The most common causes of TBIs are from falls, being hit with or against an object, and car accidents.
Find out more about TBIs and how you can cope with yours.
What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury
A TBI occurs when an outside force damages brain tissue. Severe TBIs can increase pressure within the skull, which causes brain tissue to swell and can prevent blood from reaching all parts of the brain. Someone diagnosed with a TBI may have also lost consciousness, experienced difficulty remembering past events, or suffered from a skull fracture or seizure.
Injuring your brain is different than injuring other parts of your body. Your brain controls your personality, emotions, memory and motor skills. All of these things make you a unique individual. Injuries like a broken arm heal without affecting one’s personality or mental abilities. After you experience a TBI, you may suffer from symptoms such as behavioral changes, sensory loss, and a shorter attention span.
Know The Severity of Your Brain Injury
While any TBI can affect your life, the severity of the TBI impacts the time it may take you to recover and the symptoms you may experience. After any blow to the head that is concerning, you should see a doctor immediately. Brain injuries can worsen over time, so it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Using the Glasgow Coma Scale, a doctor will test your speech, eye movements and ability to follow directions to determine how severe your TBI is.
Factors like the time spent unconscious and post-traumatic amnesia may affect the diagnosis of your TBI. The less time you spent unconscious or with amnesia the less severe your TBI may be. Whether you are a witness or victim of an event that may have caused a TBI, you should keep track of important details about the event.
Your doctor may want answers to these and similar questions:
- How did you receive the injury?
- Did you lose consciousness?
- Were other parts of your body affected by the accident?
Usually, mild TBI diagnoses require little to no treatment. A mild TBI may only require rest. Your doctor will advise you when to return to your regular activities. Severe TBIs may require emergency medical care or surgery to eliminate the possibility of further brain damage or death. If you are diagnosed with a severe TBI, you may have to undergo extensive therapy to regain skills and functioning.
Coping With Your Brain Injury
For those suffering from TBIs, the fastest rate of recovery happens within the first six months following the accident. However, many people with TBIs continue to experience effects long after the six-month mark. After five years, 33% of patients with TBIs still require a caregiver, family member or health professional to help them complete daily tasks. Additionally, more than half of people who suffer from a TBI don’t have a job five years after their injury, even if they were employed before.
Coping with a TBI is hard. The effects of TBIs may cause you to rethink, or even relearn, your daily activities. These difficulties can also place a strain on your relationships with your coworkers, friends and family members.
The following are coping mechanisms for people recovering from TBIs:
- Stick to a routine.
- Try to focus on only one task at a time.
- Give yourself more time to complete regular tasks.
- Take as many breaks as you need.
- Find a support group.
Are you living with the effects of a traumatic brain injury?