Brain injuries do not solely affect the brain injury survivor but will also impact the survivor’s family life, circle of friends and workplace environment. Moreover, post-injury changes may influence areas of life as diverse as church involvement and health care treatment. It is important for the survivor and his or her loved ones to identify exactly who needs to know about the survivor’s injury and what specifically those individuals need to know. Not every person will need to know the same amount of information regarding the injury. For instance, a spouse will generally need to know all details involved in the injury, subsequent deficits suffered and resultant treatments engaged. A co-worker would not need nearly as much information. The co-worker would only need to be privy to any information about changes relevant to the job or workplace interactions. Each brain injury survivor will differ as to which people in his or her life will need to know about the injury suffered and the types of information to which those individuals should have access.
It is often useful to make a list of all the people that might need to know about the survivor’s brain injury and what information each person should need. Let us take a look at the theoretical case of Ronny, a 22 year-old brain injury survivor who is living with his parents and planning to return to college. Here is a brief list of some of the people who may need to know about his brain injury and what they may need to know:
Parents: Need to know everything about Ronny’s injury, subsequent deficits and treatment
Extended Relatives: Need to know the cause of the injury and how the injury will affect their future interactions with Ronny.
College Professors: Need to know how the injury affects Ronny in the classroom and any accommodations he might require be made.
Personal Physician: Similar to parents due to the physician’s necessary role in long-term care.
Friends: Need to know how the injury might affect Ronny in their personal interactions and any lifestyle changes due to the injury that should be respected. For example, Ronny’s friends need to know that he can no longer consume alcohol at a party.
Clerk at the Store: If the injury affects Ronny’s ability to make a purchase, the clerk may need to know that Ronny has difficulties but not necessarily the cause of those difficulties. For example, if Ronny struggles with speech he may hand the clerk a card from his speech therapist indicating that he needs extra time in order to pronounce his words accurately.
Obviously, this is an abbreviated list of people that may need to know about Ronny’s injury as there are many other people that may be affected by interactions with him after his injury. It is important that brain injury survivors and their families take the time to identify who needs to know about the survivor’s injury and what those individuals need to know in order to ensure that survivors are able to attain the smoothest transition possible into post-injury life.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org