What is traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injury or TBI is any damage to the head or brain that is caused by concussions, contusions, trauma, or penetrating injury. A mild TBI results to temporary loss of consciousness but a severe TBI will lead to marked and lasting changes in mental condition, memory impairment, speech defects, and poor judgement.

A person with TBI can also experience sleep problems, seizures, sensory deficits, body weakness, or paralysis. TBIs can also lead to loss of consciousness that can last days or weeks, coma, and even death. Survivors often undergo personality changes that affect their social skills which may lead them to isolation and depression.

TBIs are caused by vehicular accidents, violence, disasters, sports injuries, and falls. Persons of every age can experience a TBI. Infants who suffer from “shaken baby syndrome”, kids falling off a bike, teens involved in car crash, athletes who have concussions or seniors who experience falls at home can all have traumatic brain injuries.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, as many as 1.5 million Americans suffer some kind of TBI every year. As much as 2 percent of the population, or 5.3 million people, currently live with some form disability after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

How is TBI treated?

A simple concussion may turn out to be more serious than it appears so every person with a suspected TBI should receive prompt medical attention. Serious injuries need to be seen by doctors at hospitals or at the very least reported to community clinics. When acute care is rendered and the person stabilized, the ultimate goal is to move them to rehabilitation.

The effects of a TBI vary from person to person and recovery may take as short as a couple of weeks, many years, or even lifetime. Those who suffer from a TBI who are already stable to be discharged from a hospital but not yet well enough to go home may be cared for at a long-term care facilities, nursing homes, supervised living facilities, or by community outpatient/day treatment centers.

However, the ultimate goal for individuals with TBI is to regain as much mental and physical functions as possible. This means moving back to familiar surroundings at home and become as independent as possible despite some limitations or disability caused by the injury. Self-care is ideal but many people need the support and care of family caregivers or home care services to function daily.

Why is home care beneficial for people with TBI?

Self-care at home by sufferers of TBI should always be safe and consistent with the plan of care made jointly by physicians, therapists and the patient’s own family. Caregivers provide this level of safety as they supervise people with TBI in their activities of daily living. For example, carers could reduce the risk for falls by eliminating slip hazards, installing tub bars, and providing ample lighting.

However, family members are often confronted with the reality of having to earn a living and taking time to care for family members with disabilities. Family caregivers have less time and energy and they need valuable help in caregiving. Home care services can ease this burden by having personal care attendants (PCAs) attend to your loved one’s needs.

People who had a TBI are often physically weak to maintain personal hygiene or do household chores. They often get forgetful or suffer from mental lapses that put them at great risk to injuries at home. A caregiver at home who provides companionship and assistance will provide great security against many risks.

PCAs will assist your loved one with bathing, grooming, eating, and other activities of daily living. Home health aides and PCAs can even assist with personal fitness and physical therapy. They can follow a daily schedule or routine that promotes independence and socialization for your loved one. PCAs can provide first aid if needed or call an ambulance in case of an emergency. They also assist people with TBI to take the right medicine on time and to move in and around the house.

In-home assistance gives you the peace of mind and the assurance that your family member with TBI gets the best care when you are not around. It need not be extensive either, since you can choose to hire PCAs part-time or when you want to take a much-needed break.

If you have neither the time nor resources to cope with the stress that comes with caring for a family member with TBI, it is time to consider getting home care services. Make sure you only get the best home care service in your area. A service with both knowledgeable and experienced home health aides and personal care attendants (PCAs) that can give that focused care to help someone in your family with TBI get back on his or her own feet.