10 Keys to Recovery: For the Brain Injury Survivor and Their Caregiver:

KEY TO RECOVERY NO. 6: Have Patience with yourself and others.

Brain injury can be as mild as a concussion, or as severe as not being able to walk or talk. Brain injury comes in all shapes and sizes, there may be different deficits such as Apraxia (a severe speech disorder that is characterized by the inability to speak) or Expressive Aphasia (a partial or total loss of the ability to communicate verbally), which is what affects David. Most people, upon meeting him for the first time, have no idea there is anything amiss, until they start to ask questions and he cannot assimilate and respond quickly.

This lag-time is very much what happens when we put our windshield wipers on delay. If given time, he can answer questions, but the delay is several seconds. From David’s perspective, he is saying the words correctly, but they don’t always come out of his mouth the way he intends. If you don’t have patience and want to speed things along, it can become an eternity waiting for a response.

We have learned how to adjust to David’s brain injury by asking YES or NO questions or giving him a choice of A or B, so that he doesn’t have to struggle. An example of that is; I don’t ask David what he wants for lunch, I say that it’s time for lunch and he can either find something to eat or choose from plates already made up on the counter. If he’s hungry and I’m not home, he makes his own lunch. I also don’t ask him where he wants to go, rather, he has a choice of activities such as shopping, library, movie, out to eat or stay in, that way, the frustration level stays low.

The following lists are from the website called brainline.org, (their tagline is: preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injury). Here are some things a person with a brain injury would like you to know:

  • Take your time when speaking to me – slow down- I need time to formulate what I want to say
  • I know I am different than I used to be – please don’t keep pointing it out
  • Don’t talk down to me – I’m not stupid
  • Do not shout at me – I can hear you just fine
  • Help me learn by example – show me what to do
  • Challenge me – but do not overwhelm me
  • Keep the volume and the lights down –I am more sensitive to loud noise and distraction, strobing and flashing light
  • Be patient with me – I’m not as quick as I used to be
  • Don’t give up on me – I wouldn’t give up on you