Practical tips for Brain Injury Awareness Month
March 22, 2017
By Mike McNulty
More than 12 million Americans live with a brain injury caused by any number of non-hereditary or non-developmental reasons such as disease, oxygen deprivation or tumors. The scope of brain injuries ranges from mild to severe, and symptoms can exhibit as personality changes, trouble with memory, confusion or poor judgment.
To help educate the public about the incidence of brain injury and its impact upon individuals, their families and communities, the month of March is designated as Brain Injury Awareness Month.
As members of comprehensive care teams for people with brain injury — sometimes referred to as acquired brain injury, ABI, or traumatic brain injury, TBI — occupational therapists work with patients to maximize independence in meaningful activities that ultimately improve quality of life.
Samia Rafeedie, associate clinical professor of occupational therapy at USC Chan, is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist. In recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month, she offered these useful tips to help friends and family members support a person with brain injury throughout the rehabilitation process:
1. When interacting with your loved one, keep the room quiet and calm; turn off or dim the lights, limit environmental stimuli and speak in short, simple phrases
2. Allow the person additional time to respond after you ask a question or need information; do not expect responses to be logical or sensible
3. Try to re-orient your loved one by letting them know who you are, where he or she is, what happened and why he or she is getting rehabilitation
4. Provide your loved one with familiar activities or meaningful occupations; these can be as simple as putting on lotion, combing hair or listening to favorite music
5. Do not force the person to do an activity or task that is not desired; facilitate participation in activities and occupations which are meaningful, familiar and safe
Learn more about Brain Injury Awareness Month at Brain Injury Association of America.