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Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys

How Friends and Family Can Help a TBI Victim Overcome Social Difficulties

After your friend was injured in a car accident, you knew exactly what to do. You called 911, got him to the hospital, and waited on the side of I-70 as police closed the highway and took your statement. You were prepared for the worst when you arrived at St. Joseph Medical Center, and you were told that your friend had suffered a traumatic brain injury.

While you handled the emergency perfectly, you’re not sure what to do now. It’s been weeks since the accident, and your friend is not quite the same as he was before the crash. He doesn’t even seem to want help. Is there anything you can do?

Social Problems Are Common After a TBI

Every brain injury is different, and they all heal at different rates. While many victims will suffer cognitive problems and have to relearn how to process information, many victims also have trouble communicating with others—even those they have known all their lives.

Brain injury victims will often have difficulty with social cues and communication, such as:

  • Focusing on a topic of conversation for more than a few minutes.
  • Taking turns speaking in a group.
  • Speaking at an appropriate volume and tone.
  • Refraining from inappropriate topics.
  • Responding to others’ body language or facial expressions.
  • Keeping up with a fast-paced discussion.
  • Perceiving jokes or sarcasm as serious statements.
  • Saying exactly what he or she thinks without regard for others’ feelings.
  • Overreacting to statements or speaking without any emotional inflection.

What Can You Do to Help?

It can be frustrating to interact with your friend during his recovery. However, you should remember that it is likely just as frustrating to him and he will need time to relearn how to interact successfully with others.

Before interacting with your friend, consider the following language problems brain injury victims may have:

  • Physical limitations – The muscles controlling the tongue or lips may be uncoordinated after a TBI, causing the victim to have trouble speaking clearly—often becoming self-conscious as a result.
  • Aphasia – If the language centers have been damaged, brain injury victims often may have trouble finding the right words to express themselves, or are unable to recall people, dates, or the names of everyday objects.
  • Spoken messages – Your words may sound as if you are speaking foreign language to your friend. Just as with learning a new language, it may take time for him to fully understand what you are saying.
  • Writing difficulties – Even if your friend can understand spoken language, he may have difficulty with writing, reading, and spelling--even if he had no trouble before the accident. He may even hide this fact because he is ashamed or does not want to be treated differently.

The best gift you can give your friend in his recovery is time. He may be angry and embarrassed as he learn how to cope with his injury, and you can take the pressure off by letting him know that you and the rest of his friends are happy that he’s still around, and that you will be there whenever he feels ready.

To find out what else you can do to help your friend recover, click the link on this page to download our FREE e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide.

 

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