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Coping with isolation if you have a brain injury

April 16, 2020

This is a guest post by Steven Baylis, Personal Injury partner at Lime Solicitors.


The consequences of a brain injury are varied and wide ranging. Individuals can experience a wide range of physical, cognitive and emotional difficulties. Even on what can be said to be a routine day, these difficulties can pose great challenges. The current Covid 19 pandemic is anything but routine and not only increases the anxiety and stress levels of those dealing with the effects of a brain injury, but also those of their families, friends and where appropriate carers.


It is even more important therefore to recognise what can trigger heightened stress and challenging behaviour in those with a brain injury and take into account what changes to their daily routine will be unavoidable in the current climate of social distancing. Whilst aids and equipment available and techniques employed to help with daily routines such as diaries, calendars, notice boards and text reminders will still be relevant, there will inevitably be differences to factor in to day to day life to help reduce as much as possible the challenges to be faced during this time of great uncertainty and worry.


In what constitutes normal circumstances those dealing with the effects of a brain injury may find decision making difficult, may be prone to impulsive decision making, mood swings, difficult behaviour and disinhibition. These traits may become even more pronounced at a time when significant changes to daily routines may be being experienced, with possibly difficulties in being able to process efficiently why this is happening. It is therefore even more important than ever to engage in as much planning and discussion as possible, not only to help those with an injury to the brain, but also their families and friend, and in some instances carers. For those living relatively independently and on their own, having to deal with the effects of a brain injury in the current time of substantial change will make day to day living even more stressful and difficult to manage. More than ever they will benefit from the support and understanding of those they interact with on a regular basis. Communication is crucial in helping explain why such a change to daily routines has arisen, and devise the most practical and appropriate strategies to adjust as best as can be achieved and limit the potential harm resulting from a time when certain traits and characteristics may become more challenged.


In some instances a person may be somewhat disinhibited or lack understanding, so struggle with the social distancing measures now in place. Whilst use if remote access to counselling and support is available, this may be difficult to implement where someone is suffering with a more severe brain injury. In the current circumstances it may be appropriate to reduce rehabilitation and/or therapeutic goals to focus on some key objectives and determine how best these can be implemented. There is now wider access to video conferencing facilities, which many businesses are now relying on heavily to continue to operate as effectively as possible. As such facilities become more easily accessible, this may open up more opportunities for a whole range of people, not just those who have suffered a brain injury. There may be even more simple changes to consider, for example, how a shopping experience will now be different for those who can access their local community. All these potential changes to routines need to be considered, discussed and coping strategies devised. This could be by use of cue cards, repeated reminders, or if possible to be accompanied by a family member or support worker, taking all necessary social distancing precautions.


Of is of course highly likely that the current climate will magnify some of the difficulties faced by those living with the effects of a brain injury. This is not only as a consequence of changes to routines, but also the inevitable increase in stress and anxiety levels being experienced by everyone else. It is now more crucial than ever to access support resources, such as Headway for information and guidance. In addition it is important for people to stay as active as possible. This not only will assist with mood, but should also help with maintaining good sleep hygiene, which is vitally important. It is also important to ensure people do not start to rely more on alcohol, caffeine or other stimulants. As with everyone in society at present it is more important than ever for people to talk.

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