The road to recovery after a traumatic brain injury is often long and sometimes difficult. The process may be physically and emotionally draining for both victim and family alike. Gaining a good understanding of the recovery process and doing the most you can early on will set you and your loved ones up for success throughout the recovery process.
What Will the First Weeks Look Like?
Survival and treatment of any life threatening injuries are often the Doctor’s first priority in these first few weeks. Although many patients suffering from more severe injuries may not even remember the initial stages of recovery, these can be especially challenging times for the friends and family members charged with their rehabilitation; listen to Carole, one of NovaVision’s former patients, who talks about these issues and how she dealt with them.
Often times, patients who have suffered a recent brain injury may be agitated or easily frustrated. It is important to remain calm and communicate with the patient as slowly and softly as possible throughout these first few weeks. Even though someone may appear to be speaking and communicating normally after their injury, they may still have a difficult time understanding you and this can be challenging at times.
Maintaining open and clear lines of communication with the physician can be extremely beneficial during these first few weeks. Additionally, schedule regular check-ins with nurses and any professionals tasked with neurological brain damage related rehabilitation. These professionals may be privy to more details than a busy Doctor as they will likely have to spend more time with the patient throughout the day.
What Can I Do? What Should I Expect?
While not all patients struggle with recollection, many that do will experience short-term memory loss. This means the patient may remember childhood events or things that happened over a year ago but will have difficulty remembering things that happened earlier that day or even ten minutes ago.
Stress can negatively affect memory loss. The professionals from Brainline.org suggest keeping a notebook to write everything down in. This will make it easier to keep track of times, dates, and allow you to keep track of your thoughts as they happen. Ask a family member to set out a family timeline of your life, dates of key events, names and ages of family members and pets and the timeline leading up to your injury; perhaps ask to be gently quizzed on the timeline occasionally.
A tour around your local area, visiting places with a connection such as former houses, school or college etc, will help to rebuild your memory.
Some other helpful tricks to coping with memory loss are purchasing appliances that turn off automatically, using a pill organizer to keep track of any medications, and focusing on one task at a time throughout the day.
Many of those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries will experience vision problems, but often times they will not realize they have a visual field deficit. Their brains may adjust to process visual information coming from the seeing part of their visual field and then be surprised to encounter objects in the blind area. This leads to bumping into undetected obstacles, a difficulty with seeing people, watching TV or reading, and a subsequent lack of confidence in being able to carry out their normal daily lives.
Not all Physicians will be aware of every treatment option available, solutions like NovaVision’s home-based Vision Restoration Therapy have been proven to help thousands of stroke and brain injury survivors restore some of their lost vision and subsequently enjoy improvements in their quality of life. This involves daily non-invasive light stimulation that targets the transition zone between the patient’s seeing and non-seeing areas can help patients recover part of their vision over time. NovaVision’s home-based NeuroEyeCoach, provided in a suite with Vision Restoration Therapy, helps re-train the ability of a patient to scan their environment and make the most of their lost vision. Both therapies are FDA-registered.
In the weeks and even months following your injury, you will likely get tired far more easily than you used to. Whether the fatigue is contributed to mental exhaustion from completing tasks or physical weariness, it may take a while to return to the energy levels you had previously been used to.
Since your sleeping cycle has likely been disrupted from your injuries as well as the early recovery process, getting back into a regular sleeping routine is one of the best things you can do. Start working better sleeping habits into your daily routine such as going to sleep at the same time each night, removing technology such as computers and TV from the bedroom and keeping your space as dark as possible.
Up to half of all patients suffering from a traumatic brain injury will experience headaches in some way shape or form. Often times, headaches are caused by muscle or nerve strain in the neck and shoulder area.
Always speak to your Physician about a solution that is best for you. Often times, headaches due to pinched muscles or nerves may be resolved through physical therapy over time. If this solution isn’t right for you, your physician may be able to prescribe a variety of medications to resolve discomfort or stop the headaches all together. Also keep the lines of communication open and consult your physician before exploring either option.
Above all else, having a support system in place that helps you accomplish everything we mentioned above is imperative. Whether you gain support from your family and friends or join a recovery group with peers who are experiencing similar issues, lean on the people around you for help both physically and emotionally. The road may be long but if you learn to overcome your impediments while remembering your strengths, you will continue to grow stronger each day.
If you or someone you know have experienced vision loss following a TBI, take our free vision test, it helps determine neurological vision loss, it can be performed online with instant preliminary results.
To properly determine the presence of a visual defect, the results of this free vision test should be combined with a complete vision evaluation with a medical professional.