Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) impact everyone a bit differently. This can make it hard to know which treatments will work best and what type of recovery to expect. There are numerous factors involved, such as:
- The general health of the person who suffers the injury
- That person’s age at the time of injury
- The area of the brain where it occurs
- The severity of the damage after the incident
A minor brain injury to a healthy, young individual may completely resolve within weeks, while a serious injury to an older person with diminished health could lead to a permanent disability.
Types of disabilities
To better understand how a TBI may impact you, it’s important to look at potential issues that, if they linger and do not heal, could become disabling. A few examples of common problems after a TBI include:
- Cognitive challenges – Patients may have trouble thinking and reasoning, may make irrational decisions or not be able to solve complex problems the way they used to be able to do. Even minor problem-solving tasks may prove exhausting.
- Lost memories – This could extend beyond simply not remembering the incident that led to the TBI. Some people lose older memories or have trouble forming new ones. Even minor memory lapses can be serious — e.g., forgetting to turn off the stove could lead to a fire or potential gas poisoning.
- Sensory issues – Many TBI patients complain of a sensitivity to lights and sounds. Others have trouble with taste, touch and smell. In some cases, senses may be overwhelming. Patients may feel that the light is far too bright or find it impossible to go outside or drive. In other cases, senses could decrease or disappear entirely, perhaps leaving someone with the inability to smell or taste.
- Mental health issues – Perhaps hardest for family members to understand are mental changes after a TBI. Some people deal with anxiety and depression. Others grow aggressive and start acting out. Still others no longer understand how to act appropriately in social situations. Families often struggle to connect with loved ones whose personalities have completely changed, seemingly overnight.
- Communication problems – Communication issues can take many forms. Patients may have trouble speaking or finding the proper word. They may struggle to understand what others say. They may say words that are close to their intended meanings, as many still can physically speak, but their word choices can still seriously impede their abilities to converse normally.
As you can imagine, all of these issues and their severity can have a drastic impact on TBI patients abilities to work. If you end up with a life-long disability, make sure you understand all of the financial options you have.