We should all be aware of certain things that should no be said to anyone who has suffered a brain injury. “Brain injury is confusing to people who don’t have one. It’s natural to want to say something, to voice an opinion or offer advice, even when we don’t understand. And when you care for a loved one with a brain injury, it’s easy to get burnt out and say things out of frustration. Here are a few things you might find yourself saying that are probably not helpful:
1. You seem fine to me:
The invisible signs of a brain injury — memory and concentration problems, fatigue, insomnia, chronicpain, 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 nor 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.
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