Caregiving for patients with ABI

Posted on May 15, 2021

The stay in the hospital a few hours or days after acquiring a brain injury can be quite challenging for both the victim and his family. Sustaining a brain injury is a life-changing event that will affect you and your family for the rest of your lives. This sudden yet overwhelming turn in your lives is not the end, though. 

In these distressing times, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends and extended family members for help and let them take care of the few necessary things at your house. However, after rehabilitation, when the patient returns home, you should more likely hire a caregiver unless there is a practicing doctor or any family member who has medical knowledge.

Since in ABI, the injury has no particular external factors; instead, it may arise within the brain due to pressure from a tumor or lack of oxygen, seizures, and even substance abuse. Although the symptoms are quite similar to that of a TBI patient, you need to keep a vigilant eye on any uncertain or sudden decline in their health.

Physical impairments may include speech problems, weakened hearing and vision, paralysis (usually in half side of the body), headaches, seizures, and constant muscle spasticity, which increases fatigue and difficulty in walking properly or without supports. Hence, along with daily physical therapy classes, the caregiver should communicate with the patient as much as possible and expose them to healthy, interactive sessions with either their friends or fellow brain injury victims from a support group. Work on their mobility and speech but keep in mind not to overexert the victim as well as yourself. Don’t rush into making progress and give the patient enough personal space to work on their personal growth.

Moreover, an ABI patient may also face problems in concentrating, planning, understanding, which further affect their communication skills, and they are unable to hold a conversation long enough. They may also suffer from short or long-term memory loss. Organizing their memories and their thoughts is difficult for them, and they also have disoriented perceptions. It's the caregiver's duty to make them feel most comfortable around other people as well as themselves. You can also write down a couple of notes about daily and basic routine activities and names of people that the person may have to encounter every now and then. This is will help them feel more confident around others and will be able to engage in a better conversation. 

Lastly, behavioral and emotional changes are probably the most common among brain injury patients. They tend to become extremely irritable, aggressive, restless, and anxious at times but can also project complete disregard and a cold attitude sometimes. They often suffer from depression, PTSD, mood swings, and low self-esteem. Due to fatigue and tiredness, it becomes difficult for them to divert themselves and may also become suicidal at times.

A caregiver should be extra careful and vigilant in these matters. Avoid saying harsh words during an argument, and do not leave them unattended at all times. Keep them in close contact with a behavioral therapist or a psychologist, for that matter, so that they are able to talk to someone about how they feel. After a suicide attempt, take them immediately to get further professional help!

There is no doubt that the job of a caregiver is to dedicate their time and efforts to a patient and ensuring their well-being; it’s equally important to take care of yourself as well.

  1. Don’t blame yourself for any kind of mishap or incident.
  2. Always remember to have your meals on time and take a break once in a while.
  3. Keep your personal and professional life separate and avoid getting too emotionally involved.
  4. Stay organized and keep records of all the tests and activities of the day.

These are some tips to stay on track while juggling the life of a caregiver.