You don’t understand what’s happening to your best friend. He survived a serious car accident and is already back at home, but the crash left him with a serious head injury. He says inappropriate things, yells at you when you visit, and is always agitated—even though he doesn’t seem to have any reason to be upset. Is there any way you can help him calm down?
TBI Victims Will Often Succumb to Emotional Outbursts
Sudden explosive behavior is very common after a brain injury, especially if the extent of the trauma was severe. One reason that these outbursts occur is from the brain damage itself. The brain is responsible for perceiving, processing, and reacting to information. A damaged brain may have trouble reading facial cues, understanding language, or responding to questions in socially acceptable ways.
The second reason victims may respond violently to stimuli is that they are reacting to all of the negative implications of their injury. It’s important to remember that your friend is not merely angry, he is likely feeling confused, victimized, and even depressed about the limitations of his condition. It may take some time before he is able to fully cope with the changes.
The injured person’s environment is another major factor in determining his emotional response. You may think that taking your loved one to see a T-Bones game will help him get out of the house and have fun, but he may not be able to react appropriately to noises and crowds—he may even be uncomfortable traveling in the car down I-435.
How Can I Help My Friend to Respond Appropriately in the Future?
Family and friends can take several steps to help a brain injury victim feel more comfortable, lessening the likelihood of an emotional outburst. A few of these practices include:
- Routine – Try to maintain a consistent daily schedule to help your family member adapt.
- Reinforce – Ensure that your family member has easy access to common knowledge, such as the date, time, his address, and daily schedule. Provide a watch, clock, or calendar as memory aids.
- Rest – Your family member will likely need to rest more often or take breaks from long-term activities to avoid fatigue and frustration.
- Agency – Allow the individual to choose which activities they participate in, taking care to minimize their exposure to dangerous, overwhelming, or over-stimulating environments.
- Engage – Talk to your family member about past events, hobbies and interests, future goals, and familiar friends. Speak in a manner that the patient can understand and that he finds encouraging.
For more ideas that can help a brain injury patient recover more quickly, click the link on this page to read our FREE e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide.