Tip of the Day for 3/17/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about changes in the family dynamic after brain injury

We have touched on the subject on caregiving in a previous tip. Today we talk a bit more about the family as a whole.

Family life often changes dramatically after brain injury. Changes may persist for months or years. Look at the quotes from family members below. Perhaps you’ve heard your family members make the same comments. Perhaps you’ve said these things to yourself.

“Everything has changed since my son’s injury. I haven’t had a minute for myself.”

“I’ve missed my last two doctor’s appointments because no one else could get him to his physical therapy appointments.”

“I am exhausted. We can’t count on anything anymore. Nothing has been the same since the accident.”

After TBI, the sole focus of rehabilitation staff and family members is on the needs of the person with the injury. Because there is such a great focus on the patient, family members often lose sight of their own well-being and how their lives have changed.

Research shows that family members who serve as caregivers commonly face many difficulties after injury. On an emotional level, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated is a common experience. Many caregivers are upset by their loved one’s suffering, loss of abilities, and need for complex medical care. Aside from financial concerns, many people worry about their ability to provide quality care and whether family life will ever return to “normal.” Feeling worn out by the increasing number of responsibilities they have taken on is a common experience.

There is no doubt that family members have an important role in rehabilitation and recovery. As a family caregiver, you may be wondering how you can stay healthy and emotionally strong in the face of so many challenges.

When someone suffers a TBI, the entire family is affected. Studies show that caregivers of people who have suffered a brain injury may experience feelings of burden, distress, anxiety, anger, and depression. If you are caring for a partner, spouse, child, relative, or close friend with TBI, it is important to recognize how stressful this situation can be and to seek support services.

Services that may be most helpful to you include in-home assistance (home health aides or personal care assistants), respite care to provide breaks from caregiving, brain injury support groups, and ongoing or short-term counseling to adjust to all of the life changes post-injury. You also may need to ask your support system of family, friends, and community members for help with your loved one’s care, so that you don’t get burned out.

In your role as a caregiver, you will probably find that it can be difficult to get appropriate and adequate services for your loved one. It is important to know that you will most likely need to advocate for your loved one and be persistent in your search for assistance. You should use your network of family and friends, as well as professionals, to get tips about available resources and provide support.

Check out our learning library at www.alaskabraininjury.net for online pamphlets with more tips on this and other issues that affect those with brain injury.

Source: https://www.caregiver.org/resource/traumatic-brain-injury/

https://www.brainline.org/article/family-change-after-brain-injury

Tip of the Day for 3/16/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about 9 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WITH A BRAIN INJURY

Thank you to our wonderful Administrative Assistance Sigourney Walker for recommending this article.

1. You seem fine to me.

The invisible signs of a brain injury — memory and concentration problems, fatigue, insomnia, chronic pain, depression, or anxiety — these are sometimes more difficult to live with than visible disabilities. Research shows that having just a scar on the head can help a person with a brain injury feel validated and better understood. Your loved one may look normal, but shrugging off the invisible signs of brain injury is belittling. Consider this: a memory problem can be much more disabling than a limp.

2. Maybe you’re just not trying hard enough (you’re lazy).

Lazy is not the same as apathy (lack of interest, motivation, or emotion). Apathy is a disorder and common after a brain injury. Apathy can often get in the way of rehabilitation and recovery, so it’s important to recognize and treat it. Certain prescription drugs have been shown to reduce apathy. Setting very specific goals might also help.

Do beware of problems that mimic apathy. Depression, fatigue, and chronic pain are common after a brain injury, and can look like (or be combined with) apathy. Side effects of some prescription drugs can also look like apathy. Try to discover the root of the problem, so that you can help advocate for proper treatment.

3. You’re such a grump!

Irritability is one of the most common signs of a brain injury. Irritability could be the direct result of the brain injury, or a side effect of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, sleep disorders, or fatigue. Think of it as a biological grumpiness — it’s not as if your loved one can get some air and come back in a better mood. It can come and go without reason.

It’s hard to live with someone who is grumpy, moody, or angry all the time. Certain prescription drugs, supplements, changes in diet, or therapy that focuses on adjustment and coping skills can all help to reduce irritability.

4. How many times do I have to tell you?

It’s frustrating to repeat yourself over and over, but almost everyone who has a brain injury will experience some memory problems. Instead of pointing out a deficit, try finding a solution. Make the task easier. Create a routine. Install a memo board in the kitchen. Also, remember that language isn’t always verbal. “I’ve already told you this” comes through loud and clear just by facial expression.

5. Do you have any idea how much I do for you?

Your loved one probably knows how much you do, and feels incredibly guilty about it. It’s also possible that your loved one has no clue, and may never understand. This can be due to problems with awareness, memory, or apathy — all of which can be a direct result of a brain injury. You do need to unload your burden on someone, just let that someone be a good friend or a counselor.

6. Your problem is all the medications you take.

Prescription drugs can cause all kinds of side effects such as sluggishness, insomnia, memory problems, mania, sexual dysfunction, or weight gain — just to name a few. Someone with a brain injury is especially sensitive to these effects. But, if you blame everything on the effects of drugs, two things could happen. One, you might be encouraging your loved one to stop taking an important drug prematurely. Two, you might be overlooking a genuine sign of brain injury.

It’s a good idea to regularly review prescription drugs with a doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask about alternatives that might reduce side effects. At some point in recovery, it might very well be the right time to taper off a drug. But, you won’t know this without regular follow-up.

7. Let me do that for you.

Independence and control are two of the most important things lost after a brain injury. Yes, it may be easier to do things for your loved one. Yes, it may be less frustrating. But, encouraging your loved one to do things on their own will help promote self-esteem, confidence, and quality of living. It can also help the brain recover faster.

Do make sure that the task isn’t one that might put your loved one at genuine risk — such as driving too soon or managing medication when there are significant memory problems.

8. Try to think positively.

That’s easier said than done for many people, and even harder for someone with a brain injury. Repetitive negative thinking is called rumination, and it can be common after a brain injury. Rumination is usually related to depression or anxiety, and so treating those problems may help break the negative thinking cycle.

Furthermore, if you tell someone to stop thinking about a certain negative thought, that thought will just be pushed further towards the front of the mind (literally, to the prefrontal cortex). Instead, find a task that is especially enjoyable for your loved one. It will help to distract from negative thinking, and release chemicals that promote more positive thoughts.

9. You’re lucky to be alive.

This sounds like positive thinking, looking on the bright side of things. But be careful. A person with a brain injury is six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than someone without a brain injury. Some may not feel very lucky to be alive. Instead of calling it “luck,” talk about how strong, persistent, or heroic the person is for getting through their ordeal. Tell them that they’re awesome.

Source: https://www.brainline.org/article/9-things-not-say-someone-brain-injury

Tip of the Day for 3/15/2021

Today’s Tip of the Day deals with the dangers of slips, trips and falls

Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department. Falls account for a larger number of TBIs as well.

The risk of falling, and fall-related problems, rises with age and is a serious issue in homes and communities.

Fall prevention tips

  • Clean up all spills immediately
  • Stay off freshly mopped floors
  • Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas
  • Remove small throw rugs or use non-skid mats to keep them from slipping
  • Keep frequently used items in easily reachable areas
  • Wear shoes with good support and slip-resistant soles
  • Arrange furniture to provide open walking pathways
  • Keep drawers and cabinet doors closed at all times
  • Install handrails on all staircases on both sides
  • Remove tripping hazards (paper, boxes, books, clothes, toys, shoes) from stairs and walkways
  • If you have young children, install gates at the top and bottom of stairs (unlatch the gate in order to pass — don’t climb over them)
  • Ensure adequate lighting both indoors and outdoors
  • Remove debris from exterior walkways
  • Adjust gutter downspouts to drive water away from pathways
  • Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps, and repair damages immediately
  • Never stand on a chair, table or other surface on wheels

Common locations for falls

  • Doorways
  • Ramps
  • Cluttered hallways
  • Areas with heavy traffic
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Areas prone to wetness or spills
  • Unguarded heights
  • Unstable work surfaces
  • Ladders
  • Stairs

Ladder safety

  • Always keep at least three points of contact with the ladder (i.e. two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand)
  • Place the base on a firm, solid surface
  • A straight or extension ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the surface it rests against for every 4 feet of ladder height
  • When you climb, always face the ladder and grip the rungs, not the side rails
  • Climb down a ladder one rung at a time
  • Do not climb with tools in hand — use a tool belt
  • Keep your body between the ladder side rails when climbing
  • Do not lean or overreach — reposition the ladder closer to the work instead
  • Tie down a ladder when using it outdoors and do not use it in windy or inclement weather

Source: https://www.brainline.org/article/slips-trips-and-falls

Tip of the Day for 3/12/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about 5 ways to cope with depression after brain injury.

Talk

Try to talk to your family or friends about how you’re feeling and why you may appear to be distant. If you find it difficult to speak about how you feel, try to find other ways of communicating such as writing a letter. Consider talking to your employer about depression if you feel that it’s affecting your work performance.

Avoid isolation

Try to avoid becoming socially isolated. It’s important to spend at least some time socialising with people on a face-to-face basis. If you struggle in crowds, try to arrange meeting a friend at a quiet location. Alternatively, consider finding a local support or activity group that you can attend.

Engage

Engage in activities that you enjoy doing, such as listening to uplifting music, creating art or reading a book. Research indicates that these activities can be useful ways of coping with depression. And don’t be afraid to try something new!

Educate yourself

Educate yourself on the effects of brain injury. Understanding your injury may be the first step towards accepting it, which might help with managing depression. Our website is a good place to start.

Exercise

Try to exercise for a few minutes every day. This may be difficult if you experience fatigue or have limited mobility. However, exercise is a proven method of improving low mood. Try to set yourself a routine, for example taking a short walk around the neighborhood in the morning, or doing some gentle stretches for five minutes every afternoon.

See the source material link below to find out 5 additional tips for coping with depression after a brain injury.

Source: https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/brain-injury-and-me/10-ways-to-cope-with-depression-after-brain-injury/

Tip of the Day for 3/11/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about How brain injury affects relationships.

The emotional, behavioral, physical and cognitive effects of brain injury can often have an impact on existing and future relationships. There are a number of ways in which this can happen and a number of different outcomes. Some relationships may strengthen, whereas others may become strained over time or even completely break down.

Couples

If the survivor’s personality has changed, the partner may feel that they are no longer the person they originally chose to be in a relationship with, resulting in feelings of confusion, longing, sadness and loss. The survivor themselves may no longer feel the same way about the relationship as they did prior to the injury. However, enduring challenging experiences like this can also, with support, strengthen some couple relationships.

Parents

Parents are often deeply affected by hardships faced by their son/daughter, so when a brain injury occurs this can be a devastating and frightening experience for the survivor’s parent. On top of this, while it is normal for parents to feel concern for their child’s future, a brain injury can cause a parent to feel further fear and apprehension for their son/daughter’s abilities and prospects.

Children

Relationships between some parents and their children may strengthen. Children can also offer a potential contribution to their parent’s recovery, if supported in an appropriate manner. However, it can also be quite common for the child to feel distant and confused about the relationship.

Impact of changed relationships

Some brain injury survivors may feel that their loved ones do not understand how they are feeling, which can cause them to become frustrated and distant. Conversely, families and friends of a brain injury survivor may also feel frustrated and helpless if they are unable to understand how the survivor is feeling and how they can help.

Both brain injury survivors and their partners, relatives and friends can be affected by a change in the relationship, and it’s important that both feel able to access support accordingly.

Source: https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/relationships-after-brain-injury/how-brain-injury-affects-relationships/

Tip of the Day for 3/10/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about Attention and Concentration Exercises for TBI Patients

Some of these exercises will require help from another person such as a caregiver or family member:

1. Repeat Numbers and Letters

Caregiver, say a list of letters or numbers in a slow, steady tone of voice and ask the person who has suffered the brain injury to make a mark on the paper every time they hear a certain number or letter.

2. Rhythm Matching

One person should tap out a simple, two-step rhythm several times with their hand on the table (tap-delay-tap-tap). The person with the injury should try to match the rhythm.

If this seems too easy, both of you should turn your chairs around so you are not facing each other. This way you must focus with only your auditory processing.

3. “Add 3, Subtract 7”

Pick any 2-digit number, then add 3 to that number three times.

Next subtract 7 from that final number, then repeat.

This exercise is great because your brain must attend to and hold on to several details at once. It also helps you get better at processing and organizing information.

4. Practice Fine Motor Exercises

Practicing fine motor skills is a great way to improve cognitive function after TBI, especially if these skills have been impaired. Some fine motor exercises you can try are:

  • Stacking pennies
  • Therapy putty exercises
  • Stretching rubber bands
  • Jigsaw puzzles

You can even try learning a musical instrument, which has extra benefits for TBI recovery.

5. Use Your Non-Dominant Hand

If possible, try to use your non-dominant hand during daily activities every once in a while.

For example, brush your hair with your left hand instead of your right hand one day a week.

This not only engages a different side of your brain, it also stimulates your neurons to fire in a new way, which strengthens cognitive function.

6. Sit Outside and Journal

Sit outside, and write down everything you see, hear, and smell. This engages areas of the brain that are not usually active and will help improve your concentration.

If you have difficulty writing, you can also speak what you observe out loud. The important thing is to just pay close attention to your surroundings.

Cognitive Rehabilitation Exercises for Memory Skills

The following exercises can be used to help you improve memory function:

7. Picture Recall

Caregivers, place two different cards from a deck of playing cards face up and let the person view them for 5 seconds. Turn the cards face down.

Now ask them to point to the cards that are named (e.g. “point to the Queen”). Every once in a while ask for a card that was not shown.

Increase the number of cards to a max of 5 as the person progresses.

8. Naming Therapy

This cognitive exercise is often used to help people suffering from aphasia recall words, but it’s also a great way to improve memory in general.

One good naming therapy exercise is to have someone else write down several general categories (such as tools, animals, plants, countries, occupation, foods, sports, etc.)

Then try to remember and name (verbally or in writing) as many items in that category as possible.

For caregivers, if the patient gets stumped, you can give hints. For example, if they can’t come up with any animal names, you can tell them to think of a farm or zoo, etc.

9. Grocery List

Have someone go to the grocery store with you and tell them to choose 2 or 3 food items.

Then, go and find those items without writing down what the person said. As you improve you should increase the number of items you must memorize, until you can recall 7 items.

10. Card Recall

Select four playing cards in sequence (3 of clubs, 4 of clubs, 5 of clubs) and place in random order face up. After five seconds turn the cards face down.

Then turn the cards over in sequence (3, then 4, then 5).

As you improve increase the number of cards in the sequence, allowing one more second of view time for each card added, to a maximum of 7 cards.

Check out our learning library at www.alaskabraininjury.net for online pamphlets with more tips on this and other issues that affect those with brain injury.

Source: https://www.flintrehab.com/cognitive-exercises-tbi/ ffff

Tip of the Day for 3/9/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about the TABI mini-grant program for those with brain injury.   

Did you know that you may be eligible for up to $ 2,500 a year? We have helped pay for medical bills, dental treatment, PCA services, utilities, home modification, car repairs and more.

To qualify for the TABI program, a verification of diagnosis (VOD) is needed. This is a form signed by a medical professional stating that you are diagnosed with a traumatic or acquired brain injury. Please consider having this form completed if you are under medical care or contact your doctor for their assistance. This form is available on our website at www.alaskabraininjury.net

We have made the process to apply a bit easier with a form that is available to fill out online from start to finish. Visit https://alaskabraininjury.net/tabi-mini-grant-application/ for instructions and the form.

The deadline to apply is the last business day of the month, and an award decision is made on a monthly basis.

Contact us for more information at 907-274-2824 or at [email protected]

Source: https://www.alaskabraininjury.net ed0 List T

Tip of the Day for 3/8/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about misconceptions and myths about adults with brain injury.

There is a great deal of misinformation about what is considered a traumatic brain injury.

Myth #1. If there is no loss of consciousness, there is not a traumatic brain injury.

Fact: In a mild traumatic brain injury, there may be no loss of consciousness, but the injured person may be in a dazed, confused or disoriented state. Mild traumatic brain injury may affect brain cells temporarily, while more serious TBI can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. (Mayo Clinic)

Myth #2. You must hit your head to sustain a TBI.

Fact: You can indeed suffer a traumatic brain injury even if you do not sustain a blow from an outside force or object. The rapid acceleration and deceleration that occurs in a car crash, when the head is thrown forward and then slams backward, can cause serious injury to the delicate structures of the brain.

Myth #3. You can see the effects of a traumatic brain injury right away.

Fact: The effects of TBI are not always evident immediately. A person might walk away from a crash or a fall, be fully conscious and insist that he or she feels fine.

Myth #4. A helmet will prevent serious brain injuries.

Fact: Helmets can protect the head from penetrating head wounds, and cushion the blow of an impact, but they do not always protect the brain from all serious head injuries. A helmet might mean the difference between surviving a crash and not surviving, but it is never a guarantee that there will not be a head or brain injury.

Myth #5. A person recovering from a brain injury will show steady improvement until they are completely healed.

Fact: Every TBI is different and every person will heal at their own pace, based on the severity of their injury, the person’s age and health condition. In some cases, however, the injury is so severe that it will alter the victim’s life forever, and full healing – in terms of cognitive abilities, or fine motor skills, for example – may be impossible.

Myth #6. Mild injuries do not ever have lasting consequences.

Fact: Every TBI will have different consequences. Most people with a concussion or mild TBI will be fine, but some may develop something called post-concussion syndrome, or PCS. This can last for months (and in some cases, a year or more) but the good news is, it’s pretty rare: only about 10% of people with head injuries will develop the condition, though it could be permanent if an injury victim has not recovered within three years.

Check out our learning library at www.alaskabraininjury.net for online pamphlets with more tips on this and other issues that affect those with brain injury.

Source: https://www.hlmlawfirm.com/blog/6-common-myths-and-misconceptions-about-traumatic-brain-injury/