Your friend or loved one was in the hospital after a serious brain injury. First, doctors and nurses provided treatment to prevent any further damage to the brain, and to help the heart, lungs, and other important parts of the body.
After the person became stable, doctors and nurses did tests and treatment to help them recover from the brain injury. They may have stayed in special units that help people with brain injuries.
People with a serious brain injury improve at their own pace. They may regain an ability (such as movement or speech) then stay the same or get worse for a while. Both of these may be followed by another period where the person will have more improvement.
People may display inappropriate behavior after a brain injury. It is okay to point out when behavior is not appropriate. Explain the reason and suggest a different behavior. Offer praise when the person calms down or changes their behavior.
Sometimes suggesting a new activity or a new place to go is the best option.
It is important for family members and others to stay calm.
At home, the person who had the brain injury may need to practice everyday activities. It may help to create a routine where certain activities are done at the same time each day.
The doctor, nurse, and therapist will help you decide how independent the person can be and when you can leave them alone. Make sure your home is safe so injuries don’t happen. This includes making the bathroom safe, for either a child or an adult, and protecting against falls.
Family and caregivers may need to help the person with the following:
If the person is using a wheelchair, they will need follow-up visits with their health care provider to make sure it fits well. The person also needs to change positions in the wheelchair several times an hour during the day, to help prevent skin ulcers.
Learn to make your home safer if the person with the brain injury wanders in or from the home.
Some people with brain injuries forget about eating. If so, help them learn to add extra calories. Talk with your doctor if the person is a child. Children need to get enough calories and nutrition to grow.
If the person with the brain injury has problems with swallowing, help them follow any special diet that makes eating safer. Ask your doctor what the signs of swallowing problems are. Learn tips to make feeding and swallowing easier and safer.
Tips for making clothing easier to put on and take off:
Tips for talking to the person with a brain injury (if they have problems understanding):
When giving instructions:
Try using other methods of communicating:
Have a routine. Once the person finds a bowel routine that works, help them stick with it. Pick a regular time, such as after a meal or a warm bath.
The person may have problems starting to urinate or emptying all of the urine out of their bladder. The bladder may empty too often or at the wrong time. The bladder may become too full, and they may leak urine out of the overfilled bladder.
Call the person’s doctor if they have:
Head injury - discharge; Head trauma - discharge; Contusion - discharge; Shaken baby syndrome - discharge
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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