An acquired brain injury (ABI) is one of the most devastating disabilities that can occur for any Australian. There are a number of problems that can be caused when an individual suffers from a brain injury. It is important to remember that these impacts affect individuals differently as each brain injury varies in extent and in the location of the damage.
There are a number of cognitive impacts for Australians with a brain injury. The cognition is the conscious process of the mind by which we are aware of thought and perception, including all aspects of perceiving, thinking and remembering in general. It is also knowledge i.e. the way we learn and perceive the world around us.
Lack of insight– A person with a brain injury may have difficulties with accepting and understanding their circumstances and the impact of a brain injury. It is common that individuals will have difficulty accepting changes to their thinking and behaviour. Providing frequent, clear and simple explanations about why a problem is being treated or why the person is unable to do something can be helpful during the early stages of recovery.
Slowed responses– Australians with a brain injury can have slower responses when answering questions, performing tasks and may have difficult keeping up in a conversation. Brain injuries often affect the capacity to respond quickly. For this reason individuals who have suffered from a brain injury are not allowed to perform certain tasks that may hurt others around them or themselves. Some examples of this include driving or high risk jobs.
Memory problems– Individuals with a brain injury may encounter problems with their memory. This might include a person’s name, remembering appointments or attending to phone calls. Therapy can often assist with memory loss.
Poor planning and problem-solving– People who have suffered from a brain injury can also have problems with solving problems or issues. They can lack the ability to plan and organise things and can difficult with decision making.
Poor concentration– Another impact can be the loss of concentration. Individuals can be easily distracted from what they are doing and have difficult concentrating on one task for a long period of time.
Dependency– Brain injury also impacts on one’s whole life, including their ability to do simple day to day tasks. Individuals with a brain injury will be more dependent on the support and care from loved ones.
Irritability– People with a brain injury tend to have low tolerance for frustration and can lose their temper easily.
Depression– An emotional consequence that can occur during the recovery process of an individual with a brain injury is falling into depression. Signs of depression include lack of motivation, sleep disturbance and tearfulness.
Communication– On a daily basis, individuals with a brain injury can find starting and finishing a conversation difficult. Due to a slow response, individuals can also find it difficult to understand social cues, use of humour appropriately and can interpret conversations without notice.
Besides the cognitive impacts that an individual with a brain injury can suffer, there are also physical impacts that can happen as well.
Loss of taste and smell– Nerves can be damaged from a brain injury which can make individuals experience a loss of taste and smell.
Fatigue– is a disorder of motivation that typically arises after injury to the frontal lobes, particularly the dorsolateral area.
Chronic Pain– Individuals can experience chronic pain. Chronic pain is a pain that occurs for long periods of time and that occur on a regular basis. Examples of this include severe headaches, neck pain and back pain.
Visual Problems– Problems with eyesight can also occur during a brain injury. Individuals may have difficult seeing due to the location of the damage.
Dizziness and balance– common complaints after acquiring a brain injury caused to the brain stem, blood pressure fluctuates from damage to areas controlling the heart and blood flow or vertigo from damage to the inner ear.
Epilepsy and seizures– Indivuduals can also experience chronic medical conditions called Epilepsy produced by temporary changes in the electrical function of the brain, causing a seizure which affect awareness, movement, or sensation.
Hearing problems– Australians with a brain injury can also suffer from low to acute hearing loss depending on the location of the damage.
Experiencing a brain injury can have huge impacts on the individual. However, there are a large number of impacts on the family. Individuals with a
Accommodation– During the course of an individual seeking treatment and recovery from a brain injury, a family will need to cover the cost of accommodation. This may vary in cost depending on the location in which you will need to travel to and whether your home is a suitable home for your loved one.
Transport– mobility for an individual with a brain injury can be a huge expense. This may include home modifications to make the household more suitable for a person who has had a brain injury. Other costs such as a wheelchair or a car that can transport individuals to and from places such as treatment services can be vital as well.
Medication and Assistance Equipment– Ongoing medication is require for individuals recovering from a brain injury. Individuals may experience depression, chronic pain, loss of eyesight and hearing problems. Medication can usual control pains and other conditions that a person with a brain injury can suffer from. You may also need to purchase hearing aids and other equipment to help your loved one.
Respite and Carers Support– Families with only one income stream can find it difficult to care for their partner or loved one full time. Although there are carer allowances given through Centrelink, this may not cover all the living costs for your household. Individual may need to seek for full time assistance in order to care for their loved one who has experienced a brain injury.
Medical and Therapy Services– Rehabilitation can take months to years depending on the severity of the brain injury and it’s location. Providing ongoing treatment, services and medical attention for your loved one is the utmost important for their recovery. This will enable an individual who has suffered from a brain injury to be able to relearn skills lost and to gain a sense of Independence in their lives. These services however, come at a high cost. As most services are long term programs, families will have bills adding up to hundreds to thousands of dollars per month for at least 6 to 12 months.