A Caregiver’s Guide to Coping With Brain Injury

A Caregiver’s Guide to Coping with Brain Injury

With brain injuries on the rise in Canada, there’s increasing interest in learning more about these devastating injuries and their impact on the affected patients’ lives coping with brain injury.

For anyone who has a family member suffering from this type of injury, however, that interest goes beyond mere curiosity.

Those affected family members need to better understand this injury so that they can more effectively assist their loved ones.

If you have a relative coping with brain injury, it is vital to understand how that injury affects your loved one, and the unique challenges that he or she confronts because of that condition.


Woman suffering a headache. This is one of the signs of a brain injury.

Understanding Brain Injuries

According to estimates, there are roughly 165,000 brain injuries in Canada each year – and those are just the reported cases. On average, those estimates suggest that one of these injuries happens about every three minutes.

Nearly half are the result of car accidents, but many others occur due to falls, workplace injuries, other medical conditions, and physical activities like sports. They are an extremely dangerous type of injury since even minor injuries can eventually end in permanent damage.


Brain scans on medical sheet. Identifying the types of brain injury.

The Types of Brain Injury

Brain injuries are typically classified as one of two types: the dreaded traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and the acquired brain injury.

The former is always the result of some external event – an accident, fall, or other event that damages the head. The impact event causes movement of the brain within the skull, leading to damage.

A traumatic brain injury is usually due to pressure exerted upon the brain, and is often seen after a stroke or in association with a tumor.

To further complicate matters, the symptoms can vary in accordance with the severity of the injury. For some, minor injuries are often of a temporary nature.

Those patients often experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, confusion, and troubles with memory. In other words, many of the same symptoms experienced by concussion patients.

Moderately severe injuries generally produce the same symptoms, but take longer to heal.

It is with the more severe brain injuries that the truly life-altering problems begin to manifest. If your injured family member is struggling to cope with brain injury, chances are that the condition is serious.

That patient will experience problems that can range from actual physical disabilities to cognitive and behavioral issues. To provide truly effective support, you will need to learn about how those challenges impact your loved one’s life, and the things that you can do to help him or her cope.


Woman laying on couch with head pain, coping with a brain injury.

Challenges that Patients Face

With severe brain injuries, the challenge can be immense. Treatment for traumatic brain injury, compensation issues, and brain injury recovery are all priority concerns for patients and their families.

Brain injury sufferers often struggle with problems in many areas of life, as their condition can affect the body, mind, and emotions.

As a caregiver or part of a support system, you could see your loved one facing challenges like:

  • Recurring frustration, lack of patience, and increased irritability
  • Loss of energy or general listlessness
  • An inability to come to terms with the condition; denial is common
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Reduced tolerance for stressful situations
  • Changes in his or her emotions, ranging from reduced reaction to outside stimuli to heightened emotional responses
  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Altered visual acuity, problems with hearing, and loss of tactile sensation
  • Disorientation, or loss of balance


Girl helping a loved one that is coping with brain injury.

How You Can Help

The good news is that you don’t have to feel helpless as you watch your loved one struggling with these challenges. Once you understand the problems that he or she confronts, you can be better equipped to provide the support your family member needs.

Here are just some of the things that you can do to make your loved one’s life easier and aid his or her recovery efforts:

  • Recognize that traumatic brain injury rehabilitation doesn’t always happen as we expect. This is an unpredictable condition, and every patient’s recovery – or failure to recover – is different. Much will depend on the patient’s overall health, prior disposition, age, and the nature of the injury.
  • With that said, family support is one of the most powerful tools a patient can have in the battle to recover from this type of injury. Even when total physical recovery may be unlikely, the right kind of support can help patients to recover some semblance of a normal life.
  • Treatment options can take a variety of forms, depending upon the patient’s needs. Long-term rehabilitation and recovery often requires things like physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health services.
  • It is vital that you consult with your loved one’s health providers to educate yourself about his or her treatment and support needs. This proactive approach is critical to understanding those needs, and developing a strategy for coping with brain injury.
  • Exercise patience. You need to ensure that you are prepared for what lies ahead, recognizing that there will be times when you will get frustrated too. This is especially true in cases where mental and emotional impairment are involved. Coping with a physical disability is often easier than coming to terms with cognitive and emotional problems.
  • Make sure that your own support system is in place. This type of injury can wear on both patient and caregiver alike. You’ll need strong emotional and mental support to ensure that you remain focused on the task at hand: helping your loved one recover as fully as possible, and get on with his or her life.


Lawyer helping client fill out paperwork for long term disability claim.

Addressing Legal Concerns

There are also financial and legal challenges that may arise due to the injury. For severe injuries, long-term disability may be necessary, and that means that a claim needs to be filed. Many severely injured patients lack the focus and mental acuity to take care of such matters.

If your loved one no longer has the capacity to handle a disability claim on their own, you will need to help with that process too. In many instances, you may need to retain legal services to help with that process.

Depending upon the cause of the injury, your loved one may also have a claim for monetary compensation. If another person or entity contributed to the brain injury through direct action or negligence, Canadian law provides an opportunity to seek legal compensation for those damages.

Since your injured relative will still be dealing with recovery-related issues, you should help coordinate this legal effort too. It’s vital to do it relatively quickly, since the law outlines a statute of limitations for such filings.

For example, Ontario’s statute of limitations provides accident victims only a two-year period after the accident occurs in which to file such claims.


The More You Know…

There is no denying that brain injuries can be difficult in so many ways. They can change your loved one’s life forever – and, by extension, your life too.

However, when you take the time to arm yourself with knowledge about these injuries and your loved one’s unique caregiver needs, you can approach your support role with greater confidence and peace of mind. And that can make coping with brain injury a lot less frustrating for both you and your injured relative.


Personal injury lawyer shaking hands with brain injury client.

Conte Jaswal Will Help You Get the Settlement You Deserve

If your loved one is suffering and you’re wondering what else you can do, a brain injury settlement can help to ease the recovery process.

Conte Jaswal will help you get the compensation your loved one deserves to they can move on with their life. Our team will fight aggressively on your behalf, and we won’t stop until you get the settlement you need.

We can’t change the past, but we can change the outcome of the future.

Contact Conte Jaswal to book your free, no-obligation consultation at one of our offices in Whitby and Vaughan.

Contact Conte Jaswal, your experienced personal injury lawyers in the GTA.

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