The physical accident recovery from an accident can be overwhelmingly difficult but for those with a brain injury recovery is even more difficult. Often the victims and their families struggle to recognize the new person living inside their body – they are strangers to themselves. Every brain injury is different and each one is unpredictable.
Traumatic brain injury is most often caused by accidents (car accidents and workplace injuries) and physical assaults, and sport. For those suffering from long term spousal abuse the brain injuries can be cumulative and devastating. The blow that finally sends them to hospital may come at the end of years of abuse that have caused irreparable brain damage, impairing judgement, physical and cognitive abilities.
For these men and women accessing care and understanding what has happened to them can be as difficult as the prospect of living a normal life.
A recent article highlighted the story of a woman who had suffered for 17 years after finally leaving her abusive husband. She struggled every day to find words, to understand the most basic things in her life, and with controlling her emotional outbursts. All normal side effects of brain damage but things that are nearly impossible to deal with without the appropriate supports in place.
For people living precarious lives, homeless, abused, mentally ill, the experience of being released from hospital post-injury and then ‘getting lost’ is not uncommon. Without strong family and institutional supports the long term prognosis for people living on their own with serious brain damage can be poor.
"I went for 17 years being injured and being different and having symptoms and not understanding what was happening or how to fix it."
Fortunately there is growing awareness of the dangers facing this population and new safety nets are being put into place for them. Brain injury associations, groups run through or in conjunction with hospitals and primary care facilities.
Patients generally with closely with a case manager and they are slowly given coping tools and educated about the symptoms they suffer. They are then taught how their brains work, and what that means to them.
Some patients thrive discovering therapy like art therapy, others with more physical and occupational therapies. No two injuries are the same and no outcomes are either. The ultimate goal is to help the patients understand their situation, and their emotions. From there the addictions that many suffer from can be treated. This all improves the symptoms of depression and anxiety.