Emergency Preparedness Post-Injury – Cognition and Emotion

This post is the fourth and final entry in a series on the unique challenges encountered when addressing emergency preparedness in the life of a brain injury survivor.  This final post will cover possible issues in this arena that can arise regarding the cognitive and emotional difficulties left in the wake of a traumatic brain injury.  Below is a list of some of those issues.
1.   Brain injury survivors generally become far more susceptible to stress and agitation in their lives post-injury.  It is therefore often helpful to have handy items that can be used to help the survivor maintain calm.  Music that the survivor finds to be particularly relaxing is an example of such a device.
2.   For survivors who have cognitive difficulties such as memory problems, the evacuation process can be very confusing.  They may forget why they are evacuating or where they are going to.  Calmly repeating the evacuation plan and/or having the evacuation plan in writing can help reduce this confusion.
3.  Most people, even without a brain injury, find extensive travel in a car to be stressful.  It is often helpful in reducing that stress to keep to a schedule of planned breaks when evacuating.
4.  If a survivor has issues with impulse control, he or she may be more likely to make hostile comments or rashly suggest an unwise course of action during the evacuation.  At these times, loved ones should calmly remind the survivor of the evacuation plan and that the loved one has the situation under control.  If the loved one reacts with anger at the survivor, this is likely to cause a further escalation of emotions.
5.  As many brain injury survivors have already experienced significant loss due to their injuries, an evacuation and concerns for potential losses resulting from a disaster may trigger memories of those losses previously suffered.  Some survivors may need extra emotional support at this time as memories of old  losses and new concerns for fresh ones coalesce into significant emotional struggles.
6.  All people, especially those with brain injuries that affect cognitive skills, do best when operating under a stable schedule.  Survivors and loved ones should attempt to create a daily schedule to reinsert such stability into the evacuation environment.
7.   The more an evacuation plan is practiced and reviewed, the less stress there will be when it is time for a real evacuation.  Regularly going through evacuation plans will make the process less stressful for a person with a brain injury.
Hopefully, this series of posts helped bring attention to the important issues that brain injury survivors and their loved ones need to consider regarding emergency preparedness post-injury.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

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