caring for a loved one with traumatic brain injury

Caregiving for a Loved One With a TBI

A traumatic brain injury is one of the most frightening outcomes of a car accident, a slip and fall, an animal attack, or any other type of accident. This is because outcomes are largely unknown for some time; the brain is a complex organ, and until a patient begins to get enough rest it is hard to know how or if they will recover from a TBI.

If your loved one has suffered a TBI because of an accident, you may suddenly find yourself in the position of being their caretaker. This often involves managing several different areas of your loved one’s life while still trying to take care of yourself.

Caring for a Child vs. Caring for an Adult

The healing timeline and the demands placed on you depend largely on whether you are caring for an adult or a child. Children’s brains are still growing, which can be both good and bad when it comes to a TBI. It is good because children’s brains have excellent plasticity, which means that they can recover from injuries by creating new neuronal pathways and adjusting for sudden losses in function. It is bad because an accident that impacts an area that is currently growing can lead to extraordinary deficits. Adults’ brains are not quite as “plastic” as children’s, so their brains’ ability to recover is not as strong. As a result, your caretaking responsibilities may become permanent or your loved one may experience slower progress.

Providing for Everyday Needs

Depending on the severity of your loved one’s TBI, you may find that much of your day is spent providing for their daily care needs. Those with severe TBIs may be unable to feed themselves, drink on their own, use the restroom independently, or ambulate. If you are unable to meet these needs on your own, which often happens if the patient is larger or stronger than the caretaker, you may need the assistance of a CNA or PCW.

If your loved one has a milder form of TBI, they may still be able to meet their own daily needs. However, they may need reminders, help managing their time, or assistance working through frustration and other emotions.


If your loved one’s accident has left them temporarily or permanently unable to ambulate and they require a wheelchair, don’t forget to set up transportation. Few people simply have a wheelchair van waiting to be used, so you may need to set up a temporary rental or secure the services of a local paratransit provider. These trips often need to be scheduled well in advance, so discuss your needs with a social worker.

Financial Concerns

For many TBI patients, financial concerns are second only to health worries. Those with mild, moderate, or severe TBIs may find themselves suddenly unable to work and without the financial support they need to get medical care. If you have to take time away from work to be their caretaker, you may also be plagued by financial issues. This is why it is important to get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to discuss compensation. The costs of a TBI can be exorbitantly high, and if someone else caused your loved one’s accident, they may be responsible for covering those costs. There are also social service programs set up to assist those with TBIs or other serious injuries.

Avoiding Burnout

During this time, do not forget to take care of yourself. It is easy for a TBI caretaker to lose themselves in providing for an injured family member and neglect their own needs. This often leads to burnout and may make you more susceptible to health issues. Do not take on this burden alone. Share caretaking responsibilities with other family members or paid care providers. Take breaks when you need them and ensure that you are meeting your own needs, not just those of your loved one.

Let Us Help with Your TBI Case

A traumatic brain injury can cause financial stress, emotional issues, and long-term medical problems. It is crucial to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney and figure out if your loved one is entitled to compensation. Take the first step now by calling Mann & Potter at 205-627-3186 or reaching out to our firm online.

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