How To Help a Brain Injury Survivor
We know from working with hundreds of clients hurt in accidents that an injury can change everything. When that injury involves the brain, some of the biggest challenges are related to relationships. Brain injury is a scary, complex thing and survivors sometimes distance themselves from their loved ones at a time when they most need care and support.
We recently came across a blog post on the Brain Injury Society of Toronto Blog that describes how to be a good friend to a brain injury survivor. Written by Alison, a woman who suffered a concussion in 2013, it offers a candid look at how the things that people do and say can make a big difference to someone who’s living with a brain injury. Here’s a summary of Alison’s points:
- Set your own emotions aside: don’t disengage in the face of hearing about something upsetting. Remind yourself it’s not about you!
- Listen actively: use verbal and non-verbal cues to show you are listening to the survivor, and then ask questions to clarify what you’ve heard them say.
- Don’t not do anything: when we’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing, sometimes we just wind up doing nothing. Don’t be afraid to admit your uncertainty, and ask for how you can help.
- Don’t take it personally: if a survivor doesn’t respond to communication, don’t give up on them. Let them know you’re thinking of them and keep those messages going.
- Be considerate: a brain injury can make it difficult to enjoy previously “normal” activities and social events. Try to anticipate what might be exhausting or difficult for the survivor, and ask what their limits are – then respect them.
- Provide long-term support: recovery can take a long time and often help drops off as time goes by, especially if the survivor appears to have recovered. Keep the lines of communication open with a survivor long-term.
Thanks, Alison, for sharing your perspectives and offering helpful, practical information for family and friends of brain injury survivors.