Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has a profound effect on both the patient and their family. The TBI survivor may experience many changes such as behavioural, motor and cognitive. The families also have to quickly adapt as they are facing a sudden and unexpected new life situation for which they are not prepared. Most traumatic injury is sudden and unexpected.
During treatment and rehabilitation, the focus is on the client. Once rehab comes to an end, families can feel isolated and almost abandoned, and that can have a devastating effect on the whole family as well as their individual mental and physical health. Some of the ways in which family members lives alter:
- Giving up employment to become a fulltime caregiver – losing their outside interests and people interactions.
- Spending the majority of the time with the client – this can lead to over dependence on and a loss of independence by the caregiver.
- No time for hobbies or interests – leading to depression and anxiety.
- Expectation that they know everything about the traumatic injury and the rehabilitation process – imposes a high emotional burden as well as increased anxiety.
Traditionally, support has been given to both the primary caregiver and the survivor, but independent of each other. So the caregiver might be shown problem-solving strategies and how to relieve their emotional burden, but without considering the effects on the rest of the family and the survivor. So perhaps a more productive way would be to treat the family as a whole and offer intervention programmes to address family dynamics, boundaries, relationships and communication.
There is a randomised, controlled two-year trial currently being undertaken in Denmark based on family unit intervention. It is hoped that the outcome will indicate how entire family intervention could be helpful for families living with TBI or traumatic spinal cord injury.
A 2015 study in China found that the more severe a traumatic injury, the greater the psychological pressure is on the survivor’s family and primary caregiver. Information, accessibility, and reassurance was needed by the family to deal with their psychological burden. The study highlighted the importance of meeting the needs of the family and that if medical staff could attend to the psychological health of caregivers and enhance communication with family caregivers, the burden could be eased.
We know it’s not as easy as simply introducing a new protocol, but the sooner we can safeguard the mental health of caregivers, the more we can alleviate the burden they feel. And ultimately, the better the long-term quality of life will be for both the survivor and the family members.
How can Brain Injury Group help?
Brain Injury Group is a network of approved personal injury solicitors with brain injury expertise. Moreover, our member firms have the complex injury experience to get the best possible rehabilitation and compensation for brain injuries.
Brain injury rehabilitation is important; to us, to our members, to you and towards getting the best outcome. We can help get you that best outcome. Get in touch to find out more from our brain injury experts.
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About Ainscough Associates
This article was produced by Ainscough Associates.
Ainscough Associates have a team of highly experienced and dedicated case managers with backgrounds in nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and social work. With a robust approach to supporting clients who wish to directly employ care and support staff, Ainscough Associates have their own dedicated HR professionals who work directly with the client and family.
To read more about Ainscough Associates, view the Brain Injury Group brain injury services directory listing for Ainscough Associates – www.braininjurygroup.co.uk/services-a-z/ainscough-associates/.
 Soendergaard, P.L., Wolffbrandt, M.M., Biering-Sørensen, F. et al. A manual-based family intervention for families living with the consequences of traumatic injury to the brain or spinal cord: a study protocol of a randomized controlled trial. Trials 20, 646 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-3794-5
 Weihua Liu, Jianzhong Zhu, Jing Liu,Qing Guo. Psychological state and needs of family member caregivers for victims of traumatic brain injury: A cross-sectional descriptive study.